CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The arts are alive and thriving in West Virginia schools. Student artists and musicians from across the state will be featured at the West Virginia Department of Education’s third annual Arts Alive event celebrating the fine arts achievement of public schoolchildren.
The celebration is scheduled for Monday, April 27, at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in Charleston. The evening event is free and open to the public. Tickets are available from the Clay Center at (304) 561-3500. Preshow events begin at 6:30 p.m. while the main show is at 7 p.m.
Arts Alive: The Best of West Virginia will showcase the visual arts, instrumental and vocal music, along with dance and theatre. Artwork to be displayed is chosen by the West Virginia Art Education Association, while music performers are selected through regional solo and ensemble festivals. Other groups to be included are chosen through a variety of other existing contests and adjudications across the state.
“The arts are vital to the success of the 21st century student,” said state Superintendent Steve Paine. “Arts programs encourage students to think creatively and adopt fresh approaches. Classes such as music, visual art, theatre and dance challenge our perceptions and help develop ways of thinking that are visual rather than verbal. They foster creative thinking and help bridge language and other barriers among diverse cultures in a 21st century global society.”
While the list of performers for this year is still being finalized, the show promises to be more student-centered. The emcees for the evening are West Virginia Thespian 2008 Best Actor Joseph Ta from Capital High School in Charleston and Best Actress Kerri Jo Thompson from Morgantown High School. Past performers have included groups from Cabell Midland High School in Ona, Hurricane High School, George Washington High School in Charleston, Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, Wheeling Park High School and many others.
In West Virginia, music and visual art are required core subjects in the K-8 curriculum. In grades 9 through 12, dance, music, theatre and visual art must be offered courses, and no student can graduate without an arts credit.
“Cutting back on the arts in the regular curriculum to focus on improving test scores in other subjects isn’t in the child’s best interest,” Paine said. "A child's education is not complete unless it includes the arts.”
Research shows the arts not only impacts how young people learn to think, but also how they feel and behave. Arts-rich education experiences engage students and enhance learning in other subjects.
An analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on 25,000 middle and high school students found that students who were highly involved in the arts performed better on a variety of academic measures than other students. They earned better grades, did better on exams, dropped out of school less, performed more community service and watched less television.
“Well-taught arts courses are where creativity, flexibility, innovation, understanding and empathy are consistently required -- true 21st century learning skills that are transferable to many other disciplines,” Paine said.
West Virginia’s public schools have produced such successful artists as Don Knotts, David Selby, Kathy Mattea, Brad Paisley and Jennifer Garner, among others.
For more information on Arts Alive, contact Julia Lee, fine arts coordinator for the state Department of Education, at (304) 558-5325 or firstname.lastname@example.org , or contact the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.