“Art gives me freedom of expression that’s not linked to anything else. You can put all your emotions on paper and no one can judge you for your creation,” said JHS junior, Michael Quigley, who has taken numerous art courses at JHS including: Studio Art II, Advanced Studio Art, JCC’s Drawing I and, next year, AP Art. “Art gives me a sense of structure and has helped me know that whatever I set my mind on, I can do. I want to study art at college and become an art therapist or psychologist. All of the art courses at JHS have helped prepare me for a career in art.”
Michael is just one of the many fantastic art students who have benefited from JHS’ art program. JHS offers a wide variety of classes to satisfy all budding artists’ needs. The arts are part of the Academy of Communications, Performing and Visual Arts, which is one path students can take while attending JHS. Careers in this path are related to the humanities and visual, literary, media and performing arts. Students in this Academy are creative, imaginative, innovative and original thinkers.
As part of the district’s strategic plan, Goal 2 requires us to create an engaging and nurturing school environment in and outside the classroom rich with opportunities that develop the whole child, ensuring that students have a wide range of opportunities to develop skills, talents and interests. For many students, arts are often a way to express themselves and grow as people.
JHS visual arts students begin in ninth grade with Intro To Art or Studio Art with middle school art teacher recommendation. Additional electives that might interest students are Advanced Studio, Drawing (JCC Drawing, a college-credit course), Painting, AP Art (college credit course, which requires students to prepare a portfolio of work), Independent Study (students focus on one discipline that interests them), Studio in Animation (students learn 2-D and 3-D animation techniques in the computer), Cartooning, Studio in Crafts (students learn to create jewelry, altered books and tie-dye, but also learn how to display and sell their work), Intro to Computer Art (learning Photoshop and Illustrator programs through design projects), Digital Photography and Advanced Photography (students start with fundamentals of photography and Photoshop and then move to advanced photography skills including darkroom work and more creative expression in photography).
In addition to taking classes, all art students also have the opportunity to exhibit their work for the community in the District Art Show. The 2017 District Art Show’s opening reception will be Tuesday May 16th and run until June 6th at Jefferson Middle School. The Social Security Offices in Jamestown have also generously allowed students to exhibit work on their walls. Advanced art students have also exhibited at the Albright-Knox Future Curators Show in Buffalo and the St. Bonaventure Juried High School Show. The art of many JHS students are among the works hung throughout downtown, including the Alley Art Gallery, in a special effort to increase public art through the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation. JHS art students also participated in Art & the Animal Exhibit at the Chautauqua County Humane Society when shelter animals visited the school & students had the opportunity to create art from their visits.
“Our goal is to give our students as much opportunity as possible to exhibit their work just like real-life artists. Another goals is expose every JPS student to the visual arts so that they have the opportunity to decide if this might be a career choice for them, or even just a lifelong hobby or interest,” said David Mazzone, JPS Art Department Chair. “Arts can enrich everyone’s life and we want to ensure a positive experience during school to help foster our budding artists.”
In addition to positive student expression and an outlet for stress, studies have found that participation in any arts, including visual arts, correlates positively with indicators of student success. Research shows that students who participate in arts education show improved standardized test scores, attendance, and graduation rates, as well as reduced disciplinary incidents when compared to students with lower or no arts participation. In addition, a National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) study found that students with higher exposure to arts education are more likely to attend college and be engaged in their community.
“I used to really look forward to going to art in elementary and middle school and I think that having all those classes when I was younger got me interested in art and made me realize by the time I got to high school that I had a passion for it,” said JHS senior Emily Walsh who has taken Studio I & II, Drawing, Painting, JCC Drawing I, Arts & Crafts and Photography. “I’m planning to be an athletic trainer but I know that I will always have art as a way to relieve stress and take my mind off of things. It’s such a great feeling to finish a piece of artwork and say ‘I created that.’”