Last week, National and Maine Arts Education Advocacy Day was celebrated; a celebration in Maine that was organized by the Maine Alliance for Arts Education directed by Susan Potters. The celebration featured nearly 150 students from all 16 counties who came to the State House to articulate the importance of arts education to legislators and guests.
The day began with the students meeting individually or in small groups with their local legislators and senators. After these conversations, everyone gathered in the Hall of Flags where there were student performances by the Biddeford Intermediate School Select Chorus conducted by Andrea Wollstadt, and a performance piece developed by a Bangor High School English class with teaching artist Katenia Keller. There were several speeches from distinguished guests including Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education Bill Beardsley and Arts Education Program Manager at Americans for the Arts Jeff Poulin.
Thirteen students from Wisdom High School in Saint Agatha enjoyed a “sit down” with Acting Commissioner Beardsley during their trip to Augusta. These students are part of an afterschool group called Student Leaders in the Arts Movement (SLAM!) and work to promote arts education for all Maine students. They had a spirited conversation touching on many subjects including Maine’s Proficiency-Based Diploma, the role the arts play in Maine’s core curriculum, and the need for both exposure to all subject areas while still offering depth of learning to those who wish to pursue specific content at a higher level. Acting Commissioner shared with them, “How can you teach geography, history, and philosophy without art? Art weaves its way through all subjects. Art adds value to skills- without art, you are skilled, with art you are educated.”