Arts program impacts students positively

Junior Bianca Weber performs on stage at the first coffeehouse of the school year. Weber sang “Out Tonight” from the musical “Rent” in front of a captivated audience.

When junior Bianca Weber wakes up, the thought of performing on stage gives her something to look forward to. Grady’s arts pathways give students a different outlet to learn, inside and outside the classroom.

Weber is an avid member of Grady’s drama program classes. She takes musical theatre production, mastery women’s chorus and film.

“I think these classes help me academically because it gives me a creative outlet that I don’t get in my core classes,” Weber said.

While many Grady students load up on AP courses and extracurriculars, theatre, visual arts and music classes are different ways for students to express their authentic selves. Students who take these classes are able to express their individualistic styles and personalities.

Photo and Art I teacher Kimberly Wadsworth has witnessed first hand how Grady’s arts programs have been changing students and their futures, whether they follow a career path directly involving the arts or it’s just a hobby in their free time.

“I’ve seen so many of our students go off into the world after college and make a living doing what they discovered in high school,” Wadsworth said. “Whether it be video production, photography, visual art, music or theater, I love seeing them do something productive with their talents.”

Besides giving students a creative outlet, the arts programs have also shown their positive effect on students’ education and mental health.

According to a study by Rice University, students who took art courses had fewer disciplinary actions and an increase in writing achievement and compassion.

The arts also help relieve students of the stress of day-to-day school life, like GPA.

Art teacher John Brandhorst finds it problematic when schools start to prioritize “score and rank” over pure curiosity, which he believes puts kids in school for the wrong reasons. Brandhorst firmly believes that the arts are counter to this way of thinking. They are a way for every student to feel relief from the pressures of high school.

“Art, in general, allows me to express myself and relax, so having time to do art during the stressful school day is really beneficial,” sophomore Lillian Wilson said.

Wilson currently takes Drawing and Painting II, but in her free time, she makes art and posts it on her Instagram account, “@lilligart.” Wilson said that having an allotted time to create art throughout the day has helped her alleviate stress. Other students have also experienced similar therapeutic effects from making art.

“Mentally, art classes give the student permission to be creative and think outside of the box,” Wadsworth said. “I feel that practicing art strengthens our true character and helps us to see and think with a broader vision.”

Through numerous art classes, from fashion design to jazz, Grady embraces the arts. “It is my belief that having a variety of artistic outlets is a wonderful thing,” Wadsworth said. “Students can find their individual interests without having to be clumped into a ‘one size fits all art class.’”

The arts provide a way for students to find their niche and others who have the same passions.

“What a school hopes to do is to find a way for students to feel at home,” Brandhorst said. “The only way that’s gonna happen is to find environments that are full of like-minded folks that they can trust, and the arts provide that exact kind of platform.”