Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2016 – The Importance of Arts Education for Academic Students

Name: Audrey Holzrichter
From: Edgewater, Maryland
Grade: Sophomore
School: South River High School
Votes: 0

Audrey Holzrichter

27 October 2016

Importance of Arts Education for Academic Students

For me, dance is an escape from the stress of my busy life. Between my five AP courses, work, clubs, and maintaining a social life, I find myself often extremely worn out and stressed. However, when I am dancing, I don’t have to worry about my upcoming tests, the essays I have to write, or any of my other dozen commitments, I only have to focus on creative expression. This freeing feeling is what I believe has kept me relatively sane throughout my high school years. Because
dance has helped me so much, I want nothing more than for other dancers to have the opportunity to utilize dance as a stress release and creative outlet. For this reason, I have become the director of a nearby middle school’s dance company. When the dance program was cut from the school about 6 years ago, I remembered hearing from the dance teacher at my own middle school just how lucky we were, as arts  education cuts were steadily increasing within the county.

As director, I audition prospective members in the fall, then decide which dancers will get a spot on senior or junior company. Once the lists are finalized, I get to work on choreography, creating around 3 dances for each company. Soon after, I teach the dancers their dance during their hour-long Tuesday rehearsal I hold each week. I feel that the biggest challenge has been earning the respect of the dancers, while determining the best teaching style for their various skill levels and attitudes. Despite the difficulties that come with working with middle school-aged girls, the most rewarding part of the
experience has been when one of the students said to me, “I’m so happy that we get to dance in school- otherwise I would have nothing to look forward to.” Knowing that I was a small part of the reason that she was excited to come to school that day was enough to make me see that I had the potential to positively impact on the dancers on the company.

I have learned that arts education is essential for students, especially when they are taking complex courses that make them feel weighed down. Dance, as well as other art forms, provide students with an outlet for expression and encourage free, creative thought that is essential to utilize not only in the fine arts, but in the core subjects as well. While I don’t plan on pursuing a career in dance, the creative skills that I have gained from it will follow me throughout my life. I hope that in the future, fine arts classes are encouraged for students, especially those taking the most academically rigorous classes. Ideally, dance classes will be brought back to Central Middle in the future, as students there truly enjoy having the opportunity to dance. I hope that the dancers on the company will continue to find happiness in dance and the fine arts in
the way that I have, even after I move on.

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