Arcadia High School's Stage Production Crew for the 2018-2019 school year.
Arcadia High School

Opinion: Trust me, take an arts class in high school

When are AP test payments due? Should I be looking for an internship over the summer? What colleges should I start looking into? As a junior entering my second semester of this school year, these are, unsurprisingly, the main questions dominating my thoughts. However, as a theatre student preparing for Drama Teachers Association of Southern California, one question sometimes drowns out the rest: what category do I want? DTASC is a theatre competition with over 60 schools in attendance and numerous categories to compete in. My school’s advanced theatre class competes in this biannual competition, in addition to performing two shows a year.

Despite the stress of APs and preparations for college, though, I don’t regret investing myself into such a time-consuming program as theatre. In fact, the almost daily three to eight hour rehearsals are a welcome break from my routine of studying, eating, and sleeping. This intense rehearsal schedule seems impossible when paired with the rigorous material of numerous AP classes and preparations for tests like the SAT and ACT, but the combination may have actually made school easier overall.

Having an arts class in my schedule gives me something to look forward to, and rehearsals after school motivate me to power through the classes I may not particularly enjoy. Rehearsals in which I am not needed for every scene also give me the opportunity to either socialize with friends I wouldn’t normally make plans with or focus on homework without the distractions at home.

Though studio arts have different requirements, expectations, and products than performing arts do, all forms of arts are effective outlets. The stress of school and the uncertainty of the future make these forms of creative expression essential in maintaining my sanity. Additionally, different types of fine arts classes can teach students different life skills, such as patience, precision, teamwork, and public speaking, as well as improve students’ academic abilities.

In a recent study four-year Johns Hopkins study, “students undertaking regular music training were found to have changes in their brain structures helping them transfer their motor skills to similar areas. Another found students motivated to practice a specific art form and spent time with focused attention increased the efficiency of their attention network as a whole, even when working in other areas of study — and it improved their fluid IQ scores.” Other studies reported similar scientific findings on the arts’ impact on the brain, showing that sustained arts education is an essential part of social and intellectual development.

Personally, during group projects or presentations for other classes over the last few years, I have been able to see just how much taking theatre has helped me: an audacity to speak up, the creativity to visualize abstract ideas, and the communication skills to work with a team have all helped me flourish beyond the arts. So, no matter how long rehearsals are or how busy I am with schoolwork, I don’t think I’ll ever regret taking a Theatre in high school.