How Art Is Enhancing Iron County School District Students
Hanging on the wall of the house I grew up in was a cast of plaster which contained an outline of my five-year-old hand. That stayed up on the wall much longer than I wanted it to, especially when I started to have friends and girlfriends over at the house. Still, it was something my parents wanted to display. Little did I know that was my introduction to the arts.
When talking about funding of public education, emotions can quickly rise to the surface. We have had that debate here in Iron County and as many, if not all know, a bond presented by the Iron County School District for various projects was recently, narrowly defeated.
It is appropriate to discuss the funding of our schools, but I’m glad that the discussion has changed direction to some degree. A couple of decades ago, when talking about school funding, there were some who were proposing that some programs should be cut or eliminated. Often, it was the arts that were mentioned as being unnecessary.
I don’t hear that position stated very often these days, and I’m glad because eliminating the arts would, I feel, be detrimental to the students in Iron County.
Kirsten (and I apologize – I called her Kristen on the radio show) Anderson is the Art Coordinator for the Iron County School District. She joined us on the radio this morning to talk about arts in the school.
Kirsten started by giving us a little background about herself, and why the arts are important to her. “My mom was an art teacher, so my whole life she just made sure I was always going to concerts, that we were studying art, music, theater, dance. I just had a rich arts background my whole life and then I came up here to SUU and kept going on with that and it's been a big part of my life ever since,” Anderson told us.
Anderson has been with the Iron County School District for ten years now. Introduction to the arts start at a young age here in Iron County. “We start in elementary. We're really blessed to have the BTS, the Beverly Taylor Sorensen Arts Learning program in our elementary schools, in most of them, we have two without, but all the schools have some kind of arts at their school in the elementary and on through middle school and high school,” Anderson said.
One thing Kirsten mentioned is that it is not just art for art’s sake, but that the things kids are learning in the arts are integrated with other aspects of learning in the students. “In our elementaries we try to keep arts integrated. So we're integrating with math, science, all of the core academic subjects so that it's more of a richer holler educational experience,” Anderson explained.
How Does that work on a practical level? “We know that kids learn in lots of different ways, and so like for me, I struggled a little bit with math and so learning math through dance. I know that sounds a little weird, but we get to see it in a different way, and sometimes it resonates with kids and they can understand it a little bit better and in a different art form. So, if they're acting it out, we synthesize the information that we learn. And then they can represent that information that they're learning in a different way,” according to Anderson.
Right now, art produced by Iron County School District students is being presented at the annual Southwest Regional High School Art Show. It's currently on display in Saint George at the Museum of Art. It's going to be through February 25th. Admission is free of charge. Some of our Iron County students from Cedar High and Canyon View High School are in the show, but they've won awards and scholarships from the program.
There is also the Fantasy Art Festival down in Washington County coming up on March 27th.
Anderson also told us about some success that some music students in Iron County are having. “Cedar Middle School, their advanced orchestra auditioned for the Junior High State Orchestra event. They were battling against some 9th graders, and these are just 7th and 8th graders. They earned a spot to perform at the University of Utah on March 6th as one of 15 orchestras statewide to qualify for the Sweepstakes,” Anderson told us.
If you want to see some of the works that Iron County students are producing, Anderson mentioned there will be an “Art Night” on February 26th at the Enoch elementary school, and that most schools will have similar events where parents and the public can see the masterpieces being created here.
You can find out more about arts in the Iron County School District by listening to our entire segment with Kirsten below.
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Gallery Credit: Rob Carroll