Re: Letter to the editor: School district needs to be a leader in teaching the Arts, Apr. 9, 2019 by Ian MacKenzie
Thank you for your thoughtful and passionate letter with regard to the importance of the school district being a leader in teaching the arts. We could not agree with you more.
While you are correct that the Board of Education has highlighted numeracy as a high priority item in this year’s budget, it is not at the expense of funding for arts. In fact, the Board has made it a priority to maintain funding for expanded arts programming even in the face of previous budget shortfalls.
The Kamloops-Thompson Board of Education has a long history of supporting arts education through a myriad of curricular opportunities for the student to experience and participate in the arts and has invested heavily in enhancements through district-sponsored music, performing arts, visual arts, and creative writing.
We have preserved the District Strings program. We fund a fine arts coordinator who provides mentoring and professional development for our teachers while also supporting the District Honours Choir, the Kamloops Thompson Children’s Choir, the District Honour Band, the District Jazz Band, the District Secondary Art Show and Curatorial Workshop, the Young Artists Conference, and the Young Authors Conference.
In addition, every elementary student is able to experience five Young People’s Concerts each year where they are exposed to professional theater and concert performances. The majority of our secondary schools have dedicated music teachers who teach courses such as Band, Jazz Band, Choir and Guitar.
Many of our elementary schools have choirs and drumming. We have music kits and instruments available for teachers to borrow through the district library program at the Henry Grube Education Centre. We have dedicated drama teachers who often support drama club productions that showcase the talents of their students and we are proud of our fine arts teachers who nurture students drawing, sculpting and photography skills.
At the Kamloops School of the Arts school of choice, the curriculum is taught through the arts. Students not only study the performing and visual arts but are required to use the arts to support learning in all areas of the curriculum.
We support the work of Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music by actively promoting their programming in our schools and we ensure that there is rental space available for their summer program each year.
This past year we partnered with the Thompson Rivers University Choir, the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, and the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra Choir to provide those students in the Kamloops Thompson Honour Choir and the Children’s Choir the opportunity to practice and perform with professional musicians.
That partnership has borne fruit in that several of our students continue to practice with the TRU Choir and plan on taking art and music courses at TRU once they graduate from high school. We also support the arts in our community with our partnership with the Western Canada Theatre Company by providing funding for the maintenance and operation of the Sagebrush Theatre.
This space is booked every day of the year for a plethora of arts groups including children’s dance performances, musical performances, comedy shows, concerts, speakers, theatrical productions and other community events.
The arts are alive and thriving in our schools and the Board will continue to work hard to ensure that every student has the opportunity to experience a quality education that includes a rich arts curriculum because as you so eloquently said in your recent letter to the editor, “We are in peril if we do not invest in them in a substantial way. By all means train the intellect, but at the same time priorize the soul.”
Chair, Board of Education, SD 73