Why Art Classes Need to be Promoted at Hills

Junior Gillian Herzberger works hard on a project for AP Studio Art.

Junior Gillian Herzberger works hard on a project for AP Studio Art.

Before the end of the second semester, students are tasked with building up their schedules for the upcoming school year, a process that may seem arduous and overwhelming at times. Pascack Hills offers a wide variety of electives and classes students can take. Students can perform dissections in Anatomy and Physiology, write articles about current events in Journalism, play with preschoolers in Early Childhood and Family Education, and many, many more.

Usually, when one thinks of the word elective, most minds will picture an art-based course, whether that be through music, drawing, or photography. However, in recent years, Pascack Hills has seen a decline in students choosing to take art classes as their elective. In their place, they select high-level, AP/Honors credit-giving classes, anything that will provide the extra grade boost and supposedly “look better” on their transcripts to impress colleges.

Assistant Principal Tim Wieland expressed that he is “befuddled and concerned” about the decline in popularity for art classes. During guidance meetings, counselors asked students what classes would choose to take if they could fit an additional class into their schedule, and Wieland hopes “that collecting this data will provide some insight as to the interest level for elective classes.”

“When I am in Mrs. Garretson, Mr. Dinkey or Ms. Steinmetz’s class, I find students learning, creating and enjoying themselves,” he says. “There is a tremendous amount of educational research that points to many benefits of art education, and I hope this recent trend turns around soon.”

As Wieland mentions, there is value in choosing to take classes based in the arts. As someone who’s always been interested in photography, taking the class allowed me to learn more about the topic and do things I never would have gotten to do outside of school. For example, film photography is pretty uncommon in our modern day world. However, through this class, I was able to learn how to utilize film cameras and develop them in the darkroom, an intriguing practice that yields beautiful results.

Art is also a great way to unwind and get creative. Taking an art class in between rigorous academic courses allows yourself to give your right brain a break and let your left brain take charge, and can even help reduce the stresses of your day.

Creativity is important – as we get older, we lose our sense of imagination and think outside the box less and less. However, originality and innovation are important traits to have for the future: potential employers will look for creative workers who can think for themselves.

John Dinkey, an art teacher here at Hills, believes the arts are extremely important, especially for the youth. He says that “art teaches you how to think and make stuff,” and everything in the world surrounding us stems from art. For example, the buildings around us were designed by architects, and all of this is a beautiful form of art. He also mentioned that art is important because it can teach us more about history.

For students who are unsure which elective to take next year, many current students recommend taking an art class. Senior Leia Amin, who is currently enrolled in AP Studio Art, says that art is fun because it “allows you to see in a new perspective.” In a class like photography, for example, you could have “something so simple but if you take it in the right way and edit it, it becomes something beautiful.”

“Art classes allow you to let your creativity flow,” Amin says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re good or not, you’re there to learn and get better, and you might surprise yourself with what you create.”