The Underappreciated Arts


Emilia Cormier, Staff Writer

I stood at the doorway of one of three grand art rooms. It was the winter of eighth grade, and the North Kingstown High School open house had begun. I was excited to be starting high school next fall, and more excited to be part of the fine arts department. However, as I looked towards that large room on my first day, all I saw were robotics tools and workshop tables.

The defunding of arts seems to be a stereotypical joke when it comes to public schools’ financial preferences. In cartoons, and even Disney Channel movies, they always seem to be the first to go. Even at our school, the art department seems to dwindle more every year. Both the school itself and students not interested in the arts play a role in its slow decline.

From my first year at NK, I saw this happening. The department lost a whole room as well as a personal workspace, which I was looking forward to using, to the robotics class at school. Though those classes may have more of a “future” and worth to the school, art is a terrible thing to lose. That year lacked a class I had very much looked forward to: AP Art. It was a class very beneficial to the students who really had a strong interest in pursuing their creative nature. I talked with Ms. Janice Strain, the only full time art teacher, who said she would never allow that to happen again. This year I finally qualified for the class. Once again, the course is unavailable. 

The materials within the classroom are also extremely limited. I watched in one class as Strain gathered the paints behind her desk and rationed each color in order to keep them from running out, saw at the end of the year how she collected the sketchbooks left by students and handed them out to others. I have similar experiences to her. I even cut my hand on shards of glass stuck in reused clay by students who had no respect for the class. 

Though I understand that funding for the art department is not a top priority for the district, it is still very disappointing to see this program diminish every passing year. Could the new Town council change this for the better in the future?