Wrestling With the Wrath of Writer’s Block | Heather Hummel

I got the chance to share my thoughts on how I overcome writer’s block with Heather Hummel, a blogger at The Huffington Post. I encourage you to give it a read.

You might have thought that writer’s block got ahold of me, I’ve been silent for awhile over here on my blog, but the truth is I’ve been busy writing and am now casting a new radio play that I will be directing in August.

I’m also performing in two different community theater shows (and I’m a big supporter of community theater). I’ll be performing as The Mysterious Man in Stephan Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into The Woods and as Rev. Sprague in Ken Ludwig and Don Schlitz’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

So it’s going to be a busy summer of theater for me.

 

Anyways, check out Heather’s article and give the other contributors some love.

Wrestling With the Wrath of Writer’s Block | Heather Hummel.

Autism and the Theatre

If you didn’t know, April is Autism Awareness Month. Today (April 2nd), people were encouraged to wear blue to show support for autism awareness. Over the next month, I will be highlighting autism on my blog and how the arts can affect and help autistic individuals (specifically autistic students.)

Autism affects one in 88 children today, according to Vanderbilt University researchers and theatre and theatre related activities can help in those children’s devolpment.

A recently released study assessed the effectiveness of a two-week theatre camp on children with autism spectrum disorder and found significant improvements were made in social perception, social cognition and home living skills by the end of the camp. There were also positive changes in the participants’ physiological stress and reductions in self-reported parental stress.

Called SENSE Theatre, the Social Emotional Neuroscience & Endocrinology (SENSE)program evaluates the social functioning of children with autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders.

Camp participants ages 8 to 17 years join with typically developing peers who are specially trained to serve as models for social interaction and communication, skills that are difficult for children with autism. The camp uses techniques such as role-play and improvisation and culminates in public performances of a play.

“The findings show that treatment can be delivered in an unconventional setting, and children with autism can learn from unconventional ‘interventionists’ – their typically developing peer,” said lead author Blythe Corbett, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychiatry.

Theatre and the arts is making strides in helping children on the autism spectrum and is something theatre professionals should encourage and help out with.

Fergus mac Leti and What The Leprechaun Said

In honor of St Patrick’s Day, I’m reposting my 10-min play “What the Leprechaun Said”

WHAT THE LEPRECHAUN SAID

At rise, the set is dressed as the Irish seashore, up stage left (USL) should have a large boulder large enough for two men to lay against. Down stage right (DSR) should have a small boulder. A large man, FERGUS MAC LETI, enters. He is dressed in traditional Gaelic attire: a long-sleeved, thigh length tunic, a long black cloak, a belt around his waist, a brooch on his shoulder, and boots. A large sword is strapped to his back. Fergus looks around the setting and yawns, stretching. Fergus is joined by MUENA, his servant, who is dressed similar to Fergus.

Fergus: Ack, it’s been a long day and sleep is calling my name.

Muena: Your highness, are you sure it is wise to sleep here in the open?

Fergus: Bah, you worry too much Muena, Ireland is finally at peace, what harm could come to us here?

Muena: King Fergus, you still have enemies scattered throughout the land. If one should stumble upon us…

Fergus: You worry too much lad, (slapping Muena on the back) besides, if we don’t sleep and we do stumble across an enemy, we’ll be as worthless as the day is long!

Muena: But my Lord, what about the fair folk? The sprites, and dwarves, and such?

Fergus: I spit on the fair folk and all their like. They would have let us tear the land apart with war and reclaimed it for themselves. If they dare raise a hand against me, I’ll bash their heads in too! Now come lad (slapping Muena on the back again) it’s time for a rest.

Fergus finds a spot USL and settles down against the boulder, closes his eyes and immediately falls asleep, snoring quite loudly. Muena looks around nervously. He even walks to the down center stage and peers into the great depth of the ocean. Satisfied that no one is out to get them, he moves upstage and settles down next to Fergus and goes to sleep as well. 

As they sleep, the first Leprechaun, ARGYLE, enters. He is wearing a RED coat (not green) with gold trim and seven rows of buttons with seven buttons to each row, green leggings, and shoes with buckles. He enters with a flourish, flips or walking on his hands, something similar. He moves to DSR and begins to poke around the boulder, finally pulling out a small crock of gold. He settles against this boulder and begins to count his gold. That’s when he spies Fergus and Muena.

Agryle: Ack, what’s this? Thieves and brigands out to seal my gold!

He moves up stage and pokes Fergus, who snores louder and turns, almost spooning with Muena in the process and mumbling something in his sleep.

Argyle: No, not a thief, a thief wouldn’t dare snore so loud. A traveler perhaps, wandered here and decided to take a rest. FOOL (Argyle smacks the back of Fergus’ head), don’t you know the kings of men war and fight? This is no place to nap!

Argyle moves to stage right, and calls off stage

Argyle: Seamus! Chanuncey! Get out here, I need yer help

Two other leprechauns enter SR, SEAMUS and CHANUNCEY. They are dressed identical to Argyle.

Seamus: What have ye found Argyle?

Chanuncey(pointing at Fergus and Muena) MEN! Come to steal from us!

Seamus: Or bring their war to our shores!

Argyle: I thought so too Chanuncey, but they are the most foolish humans I’ve ever seen. Look how they sleep. I can poke the fat one and he never wakes up.

Seamus: I don’t believe you.

Argyle: Try for yourself.

Seamus and Chanuncey each take turns poking and kicking at Fergus, who never stops snoring, only responds with grunts and half-hearted, sleepy swats.

Seamus: What should we do with them?

Chanuncey: Kill them.

Seamus: Chanuncey!

Argyle: For once I agree with Chanuncey, the best thing we can do is rid ourselves of these fools. If they stay here, more men may come and find our horde of gold. Or they could bring their war to us and force us to fight their battles for them. The best thing to do is kill them.

Seamus: Which one do we start with then?

Argyle: The right one, look he carries a sword, that makes him the greater threat.

Seamus: Fine, but how?

Chanuncy: We drag him to the sea and let the loch take him away.

Seamus and Argyle nod and the three of them grab Fergus’ legs and start to drag him to the water’s edge. When he’s almost to the edge, Fergus’ wakes up and starts to struggle.

Fergus(roaring) WHAT IS THIS! LET ME GO YOU DAMNABLE CLURICHAUN!

Seamus: We’re not Clurichaun, we’re leprechaun!

Fergus: Then let me go you damnable leprechaun!

Fergus continues to struggle and manages to grab all three of his intended murders  and holds them close to him in his arms. 

Argyle: Let us go!

Fergus: Never! I’ll kill you, like you tried to kill me!

Fergus starts to drag them to the water.

Chanuncy: STOP! Don’t kill us and we’ll..

Seamus: We’ll…

Fergus: You’ll what?

Argyle: We’ll grant you a wish.

Fergus: (stopping) A wish you say?

Seamus: Yes, anything you want.

Fergus: (Looking at the sea thoughtfully and then pulling off his cloak) I want you to enchant this so that it allows me to breath underwater.

Chanuncy: You want to breath underwater? Why?

Fergus: So that no sprite, pixie, dwarf, Clurichaun, or leprechaun can ever do this to me again.

The three leprechauns huddle together and whisper, nodding, shaking heads, arguing silently. Finally they break the huddle and nod.

Argyle: Fine. (He spreads the cloak on the ground and begins to waves his hands over it) Tuatha Dé Danann

Seamus: Falias.

Chanuncy: Finias.

Argyle: Gorias

Seamus: Murias

Chanuncy: Enchant this cloak and let its wearer breath in the waters of every Loch.

Fergus, satisfied  reaches for his cloak and slips it back on his shoulders. Argyle quickly grabs the hem.

Argyle: Except for Loch Rudraige.

Fergus(roaring) What have you done!

Seamus: What we said we’d do.

Chanuncy: You can breath in every loch and under every body of water except this one.

Argyle: Loch Rudraige.

Fergus: Why?

Seamus(confused) Because that’s who we are and that’s what we do. You didn’t expect us to grant you a wish without condition did you?

Argyle(a beat, waiting for an answer from Fergus, which doesn’t come) He DID!

Chanuncy: Foolish man, don’t you know that the leprechaun are tricksters and pranksters?

Seamus: We don’t mind you bothering our kin and cousins, but we don’t want to see you HERE again.

Fergus(grumbling, walks over to Muena) Wake up Muena, it’s time to go.

Muena(waking up to see the three leprechaun’s laughing and rolling) What…are those leprechaun?

Fergus: Yes. But ignore them, we need to go.

Muena: But why my liege?

Fergus: I don’t want to talk about it. (dragging Muena toward SL)

Muena: Fergus? You didn’t make a deal with them or allow them to grant you a wish did you?

Fergus: I don’t want to talk about it.

Muena: Because if you did, they’ll trick you every time.

Fergus(as they exit) I SAID I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!

Close

The story of Fergus mac Leti contains one of the earliest references to leprechauns and displays their more trickster nature and is a story I wasn’t real familiar with until I started brainstorming ideas for this blog and thought it was wonderfully theatrical. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this.

An Official Statement from Emergency Room Productions and Everett Robert

Some may think I kowtowed to pressure, some may think that I’m a coward. I may be trying to cap something off that is too late. Let me state that I stand by my original post. I stand by what I wrote. However,  for the students involved, their safety and their future, I have edited my original blog “We’re Seniors Too“.

I fear that Google Searches on these students names will bring up my original article and they may be viewed as troublemakers, I fear that letters of recommendation will be withheld, and participation in future activities may be halted. I am afraid for what the next 12 weeks of school for them may hold as I have already seen backlash toward them begin to appear from their fellow students and parents of their fellow students. I don’t want them bullied because of something I wrote and I don’t want them to be punished because of something I wrote.

I never imagined that this would reach almost 20,000 page views in 50+ hours. I have been overwhelmed by the response and at times almost sick with what to do. I have been moved to tears by the stories I have heard coming out of schools across Kansas and the United States of student artists who have felt marginalized and alone. To them I say, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

To the original students in the article and their parents, I do apologize if I caused you any undue harm or stress. It was never my intention. I believe you know that my intentions were good and I don’t think any of us ever expected this to explode the way it has.

To the original school in question, I apologize to you as well. I never meant any disrespect. Your community has never been anything less welcoming and supportive to me. I thank you for your spirit of hospitality to me. I do hope that, in the future, you consider though, how you organize your senior nights.

To everyone who shared the original post, who commented on it, who liked it. I thank you as well for standing with these students and their cause.

 
Everett Robert
Playwright-Emergency Room Productions
Feb. 28, 2014
2pm
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Where Do We Go From Here?

2/28/14, 1pm UPDATE: In the past 50+ hours of my original blog post post going live, it has exploded like wildfire. This is my fault. I have encouraged people to share this blog on social media across Facebook, Twitter, etc. I originally thought I would get at best a 100 or so views. I wasn’t expecting the fast approaching 20,000 hits it has received so far. As the page view count grew so did my passion for this area and my desire to see it grow more.

As it has grown, I have received messages from all over the US expressing support and solidarity. I have also been told stories that break my heart about schools like this. These stories, coming out of Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, and others, continue to show that this is a subject which has touched off a lot of people. I have seen, in the very comments here, posts that I would consider bullying in nature, from fellow students and from parents. For that reason, I’m LOCKING THE COMMENTS SECTION DOWN and removing the sharing options. I’m sorry I have to be doing this, but I feel that it is for the students safety.

I have heard from fellow members of the senior class who played in the band that disagree with my statements and the facts as they were presented to me. I have invited them to share their thoughts.

I am also changing many aspects of this article, I’m removing the name of the town and the names of the students, from both the article and the comments section. I have also removed the original picture. This is for the students own safety and for their future.

I am also removing ALL contact links to the school in question.

I never imagined that this story would take off as it has, I never imagined it would become the juggernaut that it has become.

Thank you all for standing up for these two students. I am proud of what I wrote, I am proud of them. They are my heroes for taking an unpopular stand that they felt was right. #WeAreSeniorsToo

-Everett Robert
Emergency Room Productions
Feb. 28, 2014
1pm
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

So, if you haven’t heard, I wrote a blog a couple of days ago that has been getting a lot of attention. How much attention? Well, over 17,000 views since it went live early Wednesday morning. At the bottom of all my blogs there is a little “Share This” bar, the Facebook “Like” button has been hit 3.7K times. I’ve received comments, tweets, Facebook messages from across the state and the nation. I’ve heard stories that have made me cry because of how schools (schools across the nation!) have treated their children who choose to focus on their music, their art, their writing, their academics, their whatever instead of sports. How they’ve been ignored and mistreated. How funds they’ve raised have gone on to be used for the athletes, how teachers pay for things out of their own pockets and fight for their students. Stories about this being used to encourage other band students. Somehow #weareseniorstoo has started to bloom into something I never expected or anticipated.

In these messages, I’ve been asked “What can I do? What’s next?”

You maybe wondering that too, but didn’t know how to ask. Here’s my answer, short and sweet.

SUPPORT THE ARTS!

Don’t bully students that are involved in the arts, don’t pressure students into doing athletics if they don’t want to. Recognize student artists, student academics, student farmers, student volunteers. Don’t prioritize sports over everything else.

Sports is a fleeting moment in a person’s life, it lasts for a moment and then it’s gone. You may learn valuable lessons and hard lessons and that is good. But don’t prioritize it over everyone else and don’t romantize it. Support the arts. Go to concerts, plays, musicals, art shows, etc. If your school has a Twitter or Facebook page, encourage them to not just post the latest team scores but also the honor roll, when the FFA does well, the Scholars Bowl, the artists, etc.

#WeAreSeniorsToo

As always, you can Tweet @ me, you can Facebook me, or join me on Tumblr.

Hill City High School

#WeAreSeniorsToo: A Follow up of sorts

2/28/14, 1pm UPDATE: In the past 50+ hours of my original blog post post going live, it has exploded like wildfire. This is my fault. I have encouraged people to share this blog on social media across Facebook, Twitter, etc. I originally thought I would get at best a 100 or so views. I wasn’t expecting the fast approaching 20,000 hits it has received so far. As the page view count grew so did my passion for this area and my desire to see it grow more.

As it has grown, I have received messages from all over the US expressing support and solidarity. I have also been told stories that break my heart about schools like this. These stories, coming out of Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, and others, continue to show that this is a subject which has touched off a lot of people. I have seen, in the very comments here, posts that I would consider bullying in nature, from fellow students and from parents. For that reason, I’m LOCKING THE COMMENTS SECTION DOWN and removing the sharing options. I’m sorry I have to be doing this, but I feel that it is for the students safety.

I have heard from fellow members of the senior class who played in the band that disagree with my statements and the facts as they were presented to me. I have invited them to share their thoughts.

I am also changing many aspects of this article, I’m removing the name of the town and the names of the students, from both the article and the comments section. I have also removed the original picture. This is for the students own safety and for their future.

I am also removing ALL contact links to the school in question.

I never imagined that this story would take off as it has, I never imagined it would become the juggernaut that it has become.

Thank you all for standing up for these two students. I am proud of what I wrote, I am proud of them. They are my heroes for taking an unpopular stand that they felt was right. #WeAreSeniorsToo

-Everett Robert
Emergency Room Productions
Feb. 28, 2014
1pm
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

As I am writing this, my last blog entry, We’re Seniors Too, has been viewed over 12,000 times. This was certainly not something I anticipated when I sat down to write it. My posts are usually seen in the 20-30 view range. I thought maybe I’d crack into the hundreds. But not this. I didn’t expect my comments to be filled up like they have been, I didn’t anticipate the thousands of shares of it on Facebook and Twitter. I didn’t expect this:

or this:

Lee Weber is the head football coach in Council Grove, KS (239 miles east of Hill City).  And I didn’t expect a retweet from Dr Chris Jocum of the University of Nebraska at Kearney (127 miles west of Hill City). But I got one:

I didn’t anticipate people from Colby, Dighton, Smith Center, Garden City, Hays, Phillipsburg, and other nearby towns to join in the discussion and stand up alongside these students. I didn’t expect it to be shared from people on the East Coast and people from the West Coast. I didn’t expect people in Texas and Michigan to share it. I didn’t expect page views from Canada, the United Kingdom, and Brazil and yet, they clicked and read. I shared my blog on a couple of writer’s groups on Facebook that I’m a part of. Locally, nationally, and internationally recognized writers from a variety of areas (playwrights, novelists, etc) “liked” the post, supporting student artists.

I don’t share this to “toot my own horn”, but rather to illustrate that this is obviously a touchy subject with a lot of passionate feelings on both sides.  I didn’t expect or anticipate this outpouring of support or vitriol. I wrote my original piece to shine a spotlight on two students who I felt were getting the short end of the stick. I wrote it in a moment of heat and passion, but that isn’t to say I regret what I wrote, because I don’t. I said it then, I’ll say it now, Smalltown High School SHOULD have recognized its senior pep band members properly alongside its basketball players, basketball managers, wrestling managers, and cheerleaders.

I didn’t write the piece to disrespect Smalltown High or to “whine” about these students’ treatment and they didn’t make their sign to whine about being left out, despite what some may say. This isn’t a “boo hoo me” situation as one commenter suggested. I wrote it because I felt that respect needs to be given to all students regardless of what their activity is.

In the past day, I’ve heard several stories about students, past and present who haven’t been recognized. I’ve heard about the Smalltown High Senior girl who has sung the national anthem at several home games and yet wasn’t recognized for her musical contributions on Senior Night. I’ve heard from former students of Smalltown High about how they never got recognized for their hard work in band and in the arts. I’ve heard from former students from other towns about how they didn’t get acknowledged either but how that has changed in their towns (some of them just a short distance away from Smalltown.)

I didn’t write We’re Seniors Too to shame any student athlete, they work hard and deserve their recognition, but as I mentioned in the original article and in my comments, the pep band works hard at creating an atmosphere of excitement. As one former Smalltown High alumni told me in person, “What kind of game do you have without the band there?”

In theater, we have what’s called a “curtain call”. If you’ve ever been to a live show or seen a movie or TV show that features a theater performance of some kind, you know what a curtain call is. It’s the bow the actors take at the end of the show. I used the curtain call as an analogy in one of my comments and I’ll share it here as well.

Imagine you are directing a production of say, Macbeth, and you need several young men to be soldiers in the final act. They would be in one scene and have no lines. Extras, if you will. You recruit players from your school’s sports team, football or basketball or whatever, to play these soldiers and they gladly volunteer their nights to come and march and grunt across the stage. They do sit around backstage and wait for their cue, then they march and go back backstage until the curtain call. They do this for the final rehearsals and for the performances. Would you recognize them at the end of the show? I would venture that most if not all schools would. They would have them do the curtain call, invite them to the cast party, maybe even give them flowers, their names would be included in the program. As well they should be!

Why shouldn’t our student artists, who work tirelessly on new song selections throughout the year for pep band in addition to the concert and contest pieces, who volunteer their nights month after month, be afforded the same opportunities?

As usual, weigh in on Twitter or on Facebook using the hashtag #WeAreSeniorsToo.

Contact me, I’m on Twitter @eerobert or on Facebook @ Emergency Room Productions. If you’re on Tumblr, I’m there as well.

Share this on and more importantly continue to share the original article on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you, on behalf of myself and these students, for your support.

We’re Seniors Too

2/28/14, 1pm UPDATE: In the past 50+ hours of this blog post going live, it has exploded like wildfire. This is my fault. I have encouraged people to share this blog on social media across Facebook, Twitter, etc. I originally thought I would get at best a 100 or so views. I wasn’t expecting the fast approaching 20,000 hits it has received so far. As the page view count grew so did my passion for this area and my desire to see it grow more.

As it has grown, I have received messages from all over the US expressing support and solidarity. I have also been told stories that break my heart about schools like this. These stories, coming out of Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, and others, continue to show that this is a subject which has touched off a lot of people. I have seen, in the very comments here, posts that I would consider bullying in nature, from fellow students and from parents. For that reason, I’m LOCKING THE COMMENTS SECTION DOWN and removing the sharing options. I’m sorry I have to be doing this, but I feel that it is for the students safety.

I have heard from fellow members of the senior class who played in the band that disagree with my statements and the facts as they were presented to me. I have invited them to share their thoughts.

I am also changing many aspects of this article, I’m removing the name of the town and the names of the students, from both the article and the comments section. I have also removed the original picture. This is for the students own safety and for their future.

I am also removing ALL contact links to the school in question.

I never imagined that this story would take off as it has, I never imagined it would become the juggernaut that it has become.

Thank you all for standing up for these two students. I am proud of what I wrote, I am proud of them. They are my heroes for taking an unpopular stand that they felt was right. #WeAreSeniorsToo

-Everett Robert
Emergency Room Productions
Feb. 28, 2014
1pm

Edited Post in

3…

2…

1…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

I want to take you to Smalltown, KS located on the wild plains of western Kansas. The population is less than 1,500 people. It may be hard to believe that towns this size exist, but I assure you, they do.

I know about this town because my first two plays were performed there. In fact, I completed the script to that show less than a block away from the high school. I’ve eaten lunch there, performed there, lived there for three months. It’s a town I dearly love, but at the moment, I’m saddened by.

In a town that small, I’m sure you can imagine how small the school is. According to http://www.high-schools.com, total enrollment at Smalltown High is 166. Of those 166 students, 36 are seniors. Tonight, Feb 25, 2014, was their last home basketball game of the season.

In many schools across the state and the nation, the last home game is often recognized as “Senior Night.” I’ve seen it at high school football games, basketball games, etc. It’s a chance for the coaches, faculty, parents and fans to cheer and recognize the hard-working athletes, cheerleaders, sports managers in their last home game. There are two young people I know who are Smalltown High School seniors. But they are not part of “the team”, they are members of the band. And tonight, at their last home game as pep band members they did not get recognized alongside their classmates.

And here’s the kicker, they were promised they would be recognized and then that offer was rescinded. They were told they COULD be recognized at their spring concert. Which, according to one of the students, has “minimum to no attendance” and which she has “never seen” happen. So what did these brave students do? They stood up and made themselves recognized.

Let me put this out here right now, I have no problems with sports. I think sports have their place in high schools as much as music, theater, and the arts. As I’m typing this, I’m wearing a tee-shirt recognizing a Big 12 collegiate team, a hoodie from an area high school, and a Major League baseball cap. I got to sporting events. I even played sports for a little while in middle school and in high school.

But what I do have a problem with is athletes getting greater recognition then others. Whether they be players, managers or cheerleaders, they are NOT more important than their classmates who work just as hard, put in as many hours, with none of the glory and recognition. I fear and feel that this brings forth a culture of entitlement that carries on into later adulthood.

Do you want to know what this band and their members have done for Smalltown High School? From One of the band members,

 We have played pep band since sixth grade, long before the seniors who were recognized tonight played on that court, before the cheerleaders wore those uniforms, before the managers worked with the coaches. I have never ridden on a class float during the homecoming parade, because I have always marched. I have played in half times at college football games. I have taken music to contests and played in honor bands. I have played with Dallas Brass. I’ve played jazz band on top of a mountain in Aspen at a ski resort.

These band members were ambassadors for their school, but more than that, they were torchbearers and played as important a role in athletics as the athletes on the field or the court. In Biblical times, musicians often preceded the armies into battle and in beginning in the 16th century in Europe, armies would often have a drum and fife player who would play uplifting music to encourage the troops, as well as be used to convey orders. What is the purpose of a high school pep band but to uplift and encourage the crowd of spectators and the athletes. They work in conjunction with cheerleaders often times.

I’m writing about this, not because these students are friends of mine (although they are-they were part of my original show in Smalltown), not because I’m disappointed in a school or a town (although I am), but because this is symptomatic of our culture. We like to separate the “jocks” from the “geeks”. We like to pigeonhole and ghettoize groups of people. We place a disproportionate amount of praise on our student athletes while marginalizing and ignoring our student artists. I graduated high school almost 20 years ago, from a much larger high school, and felt the same thing. Student artists get the shaft while student athletes get the praise. I had hoped that our society had progressed beyond that.

I’ve blogged about this before, but it bears repeating; arts in education is vital to making our country better. Studies have “found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas. “A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.” (PBS, 2013). And according to Fran Smith in a 2009 article on Edutopia, the website of The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF), “Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork.”

Smith goes on to cite a 2005 Rand Corporation study which states, “can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing,” meaning, basically, the arts can make a person’s life BETTER because they [the arts] are sweetening that person’s life, causing them to create closer social connections and bonds.

Music education can help with verbal skills, increase IQ, develop Spatial-Temporal skills. The brain works harder, causing increased test scores. Theater education can help with social anxiety and confidence, art education helps with motor skills and decision-making. The studies are out there for those who want to look.

Art Education plays a vital role and instead of ignoring those students, instead of promising something and then revoking it, the Smalltown School District (and by default ALL schools) should be CELEBRATING our student artists.

I can’t do much, but I can applaud these Senior students and I can write about this.

If you wish to join the discussion use the hashtag it #Weareseniorstoo so I can track it.

If you know of other stories like this, contact me via Twitter or my Facebook page and I’ll continue to bring this life. It’s time we took a cue from these Smalltown students and take a stand.