Motivating and keeping students engaged in school and learning is one of the most important issues that successful educators must address at all times. How will I keep these diverse students interested in what we are doing? What might make them want to come back tomorrow? How can I prevent students from being bored, and others from being overwhelmed at the same time?
It takes more than the 3 Rs to keep kids interested. In the world of social media and streaming entertainment, at times it’s hard to compete. One way that UUSD competes quite well is with our visual and performing arts programs. We really want to challenge our students to learn and grow as individuals so they can succeed in whatever they choose to pursue in life. If students are not interested and engaged, it’s more difficult to succeed. Music and art classes are a great way to help keep kids interested in school.
We’ve been working diligently for a few years now to strengthen our music and arts programs, and I believe we have a lot to show for our hard work. If you attended any of our school holiday performances, you understand what I am talking about. I am extremely proud of the musicians and artists at our schools and the quality music and art that I hear and see. Congratulations to our music, art and theater departments for their amazing performances and the great work they do for our students and the community.
The arts are obviously a great way for students to express themselves, but also an effective way to keep some students interested and engaged. Learning to play an instrument, sing, act, draw, throw clay, take photographs, or paint can benefit students in many ways like improved memory, increased vocabulary, advanced auditory skills, teamwork, creativity, and improved memorization skills. In addition, and possibly the most important benefit is that the arts help reduce stress and contribute to community development.
We are very lucky to live in an area that supports the arts. All around us, there are opportunities for UUSD students to build and improve their talents and interests outside of school. We have Mendocino Ballet, Ukiah Players Theater, and Near and Arnold’s School of Performing Arts and Cultural Education (SPACE) to name just a few of our community programs.
We have continued to partner with SPACE to provide dance or music instruction for all elementary students. Additionally, we have allocated funds, purchased elementary arts curriculum, and hired guest artists in our schools. When you walk around our elementary schools, art is abundant in the classrooms and hallways.
At our secondary schools, we have robust music and arts programs. We offer photography, ceramics, drawing and painting, theater, digital media, and more. These programs permeate our schools and community, and I urge you to check them out for yourself. You can visit the Pomolita Middle School website to view some of the digital media newscasts students have created. If you have not attended a football game in recent years, you have missed out on some great games and great music. Our UHS Band Director, Audrey McCombs, has resurrected the UHS Marching and Pep Bands. The performances will occasionally include our Middle School Bands too. Last year during a very tragic time in our community, I walked onto the high school campus and heard the UHS Choir, directed by Joshua Small, spontaneously serenading the students in the UHS quad. Do yourself a favor and attend one of the many shows or performances that our Music, Art, and Theater Departments have throughout the year so you can hear and see the wonderful achievements of our students.
We are proud of the many programs we offer students in our schools and are grateful to the community for their commitment to support the arts. In our small community, keeping kids busy and active both at school and at home will continue to keep our kids engaged in positive activities, and away from some of the negative activities. Thank you to our community and to our staff members who work many hours inside and outside of the classroom to engage our students in visual and performing arts.