The Saratoga Sun -

The inspiration of the arts

 

January 5, 2022



I find it funny how I have to go to kids’ concerts to remind myself how important the arts are to school programs, and to me.

I was a lucky kid growing up around Washington D.C. because both sets of my folks liked to take me to plays and concerts even though, sometimes, I wasn’t really into going. Still, I saw Broadway shows which came to town and I even went to New York a few times.

Culture was being ingrained into me whether I wanted it or not.

My mother was always playing classical music in the house and slowly, but surely, it creeped into my listening habits.

The “Nutcracker Suite” is one of my favorite holiday treats to take in and, again, it is thanks to my family. It is little wonder going to the concerts I did throughout December reminded me how grateful I am to appreciating the arts during this festive time.

Not to take away from any of the four concerts I saw this year by different schools and classes, but I was especially blown away by the Hanna Elementary School (HES) Christmas concert. Over the past few years I have covered school programs, the HES original shows are quite amazing in my opinion. This year the concert/play was Karoke Christmas. HES puts on impressive shows.

No matter what concert or play was put on this season, whether I saw it or not, I know there was a lot of hard work put in by students and faculty of Carbon County School District No. 2.

That hard work should not be taken for granted.

As a youngster, I was in a lot of plays and musicals. As often as not, I was given solos to sing. In fact, in 6th grade, I was one of two soloists from our entire grade, which had over 100 students. I had this really high voice (well higher than now, that is for sure) and I guess it was pretty melodic. Plus, for some reason, I could remember lines from scripts and plays with little effort. It was not a big deal for me to get a major part in our school plays, if not expected.

I freely admit those days of remembering lines without effort are gone.

I had good teachers and arts programs were alive and well throughout my schooling, no matter what grade.

My voice changed in 7th grade and I wasn’t unhappy at all. Losing my stellar singing voice seemed a small price to pay. I didn’t bum out as I found myself in the chorus. Junior High was a time in my life where I wanted to be different than the straight A kid who never did anything wrong.

I hung with a tough crowd (for those times anyway) and my studies took a hit. I didn’t participate in plays or musicals during this time and it is possible I could have become a guy who didn’t appreciate anything to do much with the arts. In my social group, it just wasn’t cool to be artistically inclined other than drawing, which I definitely wasn’t.

Then came 12th grade and it was required to have some art classes to graduate. By this time, I had got my grades back up and I didn’t want to get low grades due to my inability to draw. So I took a drama class with a few friends.

The few buddies who joined me in the class were in a similar boat as far as not being able to draw a straight line and the art teacher was known to give grades on talent. It helped the drama teacher was one of the best instructors in the school. Miss Van knew we didn’t really want to be there, so she kept it fun. She also told our little group of miscreants if we were in her play at the end of the year, we would get a guaranteed “A”. Not a bad deal, and all we had to do was be in the background as dancers and chorus.

The play was “Oklahoma” and, to this day, I can sing the main song.

There were plenty of kids in the class who wanted major parts and got them. I was happy with my role because my dancing partner was a girl I had been crushing on all year. I can look back and say it was actually a lot of fun and I learned, through experience, plays and musicals brought all sorts of people together.

My folks were happy I was in the play and came to see me. They were actually proud of me, even though it was a small part. The work I had put in, even if I was bribed a little, was worth it. To this day, I am grateful to Miss Van for all her effort to get us uninterested students involved in something I remember every time I see kids perform.

I do report on the arts in school when possible, but sports gets way more of my attention due to the volume of activity. Sports have always been important to high school life and I love covering them, because there is real value which comes from the students learning to work together as a team.

Concerts should get the same respect. I think they do here in Carbon County judging by the attendance I see.

There is a lot of hard work evident and I bet bonds are built between students who perform. Like sports, the talent is sometimes there, sometimes not. You still want to support the effort.

In this column, I wanted to commend the effort of all students and teachers who put on the holiday shows for their communities. I also want to commend the families who support the kids by showing up and recording the shows.

I really believe arts programs are important and I am glad to see the support.

President John F. Kennedy said some inspiring words which made an impact on my thoughts concerning the arts and how important they are to our nation, I have never forgotten them. He was talking about poetry, but I believe it applies to the Arts.

“Robert Frost saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgements.”

Wise words, that seem to ring especially true in this age.

Maybe Robert Frost should be required reading before any person can run for political office. I certainly don’t think it could hurt.

 

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