The True Value of an Arts Education

Art senior, Tashfeen Ali, does a live painting at the recent senior art show. Tashfeen will be going to an arts-based college in the Fall.

Art senior, Tashfeen Ali, does a live painting at the recent senior art show. Tashfeen will be going to an arts-based college in the Fall.

Few teenagers have the opportunity to study in a school that is dedicated to the arts; and even fewer students in college can say that their high school had properly prepared them for an intense focus on their chosen major for the next four years. However, this can be said by students in the handful of high schools across America that offer various art forms at the center of their curriculum.

Amid the creative environment that teens are exposed to in select schools across the country that have strong music, art, and performance arts programs, the select few who get to benefit from these programs may be oblivious to the constant threat that arts education should be cut from schools in effort to channel funds into bettering their academic programs instead. There is a constant debate on whether or not art education benefits students in other academic and skill-building areas. Despite the disputes, students at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, New York are determined to excel in their studios throughout the course of their personal and professional lives.

Studying art in high school creates the foundation for what college freshman will learn during their first year. At an art-based high school like Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, students are prepared in hopes that they will be able to pursue a career in their chosen art form.

Joelsy Fernandez, 18, is a Fine Art major at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and will be studying at The Cooper Union School of Art in the fall on a full scholarship.

Throughout her time in college, she will dabble in all forms of fine art.

“It would be boring to do one thing for four years; and plus I think I want to try out different things and then choose at the end,” she said.

But not all students in these art-based high schools can say that they are passionate enough about their work to continue it into college. Youth change their minds often and sometimes continuing an arts education just isn’t in the cards. 

Being in a high school for the arts where you expect everyone to devote themselves to their studio these aspirations can be beaten down by parents or peers who think that a career in the arts is not beneficial in today’s world. It is far too common to hear discouraging comments from any outlet. But the few kids at FSSA who are pursuing their art form in college can’t imagine studying anything else just to end up in the corporate sea of plain, grey cubicles.

“It’s what I love to do. When I dance, it gives me happiness and makes me not care about what other people think or say about it. I think I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s my life,” Lucy Barrer-Tozzi, a Dance major, said.

The idea that the only way one can succeed and make a good living for oneself is to become famous; while, of course, being famous for doing what you love is fantastic, there are an abundance of opportunities to be seized by young artists. An industrial designer was there to sketch the very piece of furniture that you’re sitting on. A dancer choreographed every one of Beyonce’s music videos. And a filmmaker directed the commercials that stream before a YouTube video. An artist’s hands touched every part of our daily lives, and the only way that this innovative life can continue is by encouraging young artists to put 110 percent into whatever they love to do and to eliminate the negative perspectives on not being able to succeed.

On the physical, emotional, and mental struggles of a dance career, ground-breaking Ballerina Misty Copeland gave a word of advice to fellow, young dancer Lucy Barrer-Tozzi that we can all take note of: “Just stay positive.”

– by Annie Lee-Daily ’16

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