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Teachers and Students voice opinions on keeping arts in schools

Importance of Arts Program

Idaho Falls-IDAHO - Arts programs in schools are often the first to get cut when districts review a budget, but a local dance group is hoping to bring attention to the arts.

The Mayhem Dance Group will be putting on a production called "Saving the Arts in Local Schools" at the Colonial Theatre in Idaho Falls, Friday.

Both School Districts 93 and 91 said the school budget has impacted arts programs, but administrators in say they value the enrichment the arts provide to students.

"In the world today you can't get away from art. Art is everywhere. A lot of kids will say this is my favorite class because they get a chance to take a break, take a breather," said art teacher at Idaho Falls High School, Brett Schwieder.

"You wanna get something out of your mind, you just create something," said art student Andrea Jonas.

Garrett Newton, a fifth grader at Longfellow Elementary said he likes to play different characters on the stage.

"I don't want to just be a single guy in a single world. That's why I make believe my sisters and play pretend," said Newton.

The tiny thespian is about to perform in his fifth play through the programs at the Idaho Falls Youth Arts Center. He can't imagine his life without theater.

"I would just be sitting at home lazy dreaming watching TV," he said.

Tina VanderMeer, executive director of the arts center, said she has seen the benefits of exposing kids to the arts.

"If they've been in any performing arts whether it be drama, music, dance or even visual arts, it flows over to their learning skills they seem to concentrate better when they're working in team groups and things like that," said VanderMeer

"It helps your math and science and your English. They're all intertwined," Schwieder.

"It gives them an opportunity to express themselves through music and speaking and teach them to just let loose, go with the flow and have fun," said Jonas.

Mayhem's performance starts at 7 p.m. Friday at the Colonial Theatre. Tickets are $8.

District 91 said transportation to plays for elementary school kids are now covered by private donations instead of the school budget.

District 93 said it has had to train regular teachers in the classroom to replace specialists in music and physical education.

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