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Arts in Education: Fostering student development through amazing performances

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From February 24 through 26, there will be a showing of the play Almost Maine in Fort Collins. Written by John Cariani and set in the fictitious Maine town of Almost, this play follows one extraordinary night in the lives of nineteen townspeople. Named one of the top ten plays of 2004-2005, it is bound to be a great show.

What is more exciting about this production, though, is not just the play itself but the people putting it on. The students at Poudre High School have taken on the challenge of performing Almost Maine, and the payoff is sure to be huge. Cariani, an accomplished actor himself, made sure his play was both challenging and rewarding to its performers. This particular production is no exception, as only six students will be playing the roles of all nineteen characters. This really demonstrates their talent, hard work, and dedication, their young age aside. Considered the school’s “varsity” show, Almost Maine certainly boasts a lot of talent.

We know that the arts can have a huge impact on students. Learning to be creative, to express oneself through a positive medium, and to work as a team fosters both professional and social growth. But involvement in the arts also helps students out academically. According to a study by the National School Boards Association and Americans for the Arts in 2004, the arts are vital to education completion and contribute to a rising in student achievement. Students who participated in the arts were found to be 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools, and 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance, to name just a few points.

Studies also show that early involvement in the arts is helpful, too. And thanks to Suna Thomas, middle school students in Fort Collins can be active in the arts through music as well. In November, we found out about a band Suna helped form at Kinard Middle School that was creating places for kids to play instruments not always covered in school bands and orchestras (http://beetstreet.org/blog/?p=1180). With a unique blend of guitars, bass, drums, and electric instruments, the Kinard Middle School House Band has gained some serious popularity, playing at a Colorado Eagles game and at Art Lab Fort Collins. Suna has now founded the Kids Create the Music Foundation, an organization that helps encourage music in schools on the student’s terms. Allowing the students themselves to pursue their craft and learn through the arts is an amazing accomplishment.

Both at the junior high and high school level, students are getting more involved in the arts. They are challenging themselves in their own disciplines, creating music, performances, and art with as much talent as any professional. And while students gain advantages through arts education, they are also playing a vital role in the Fort Collins community. The entertainment and opportunity they provide for viewers and peers is fostering continuous growth in our town.

Students often go on after graduation to become accomplished in many professions, and few will follow careers in the arts. However, what they are learning and contributing right now through their involvement in the arts is invaluable. It is what helps build the accomplished future that they strive for.

Be sure to check out Almost Maine:
Where: Poudre High School, 201 S. Impala St.
When: February 24-26, 7:00pm
Tickets: $8 regular price, $6 student price.
Visit http://www.Showtix4u.com or call (970) 488-6212 for more ticket info.

For more information on the Kinard Middle School House Band and Kids Create the Music Foundation, please visit www.kidscreatethemusic.org.