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The Virtual Hub for the Media of the The Benjamin School's Upper School

The Pharcyte

The Virtual Hub for the Media of the The Benjamin School's Upper School

The Pharcyte


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Performing Arts Requirement Announced

BTV students work on camera skills and filming. The Benjamin School’s Website

Recently, the School has implemented a new arts requirement for its students. Under this policy, students are now required to complete .5 credits in the areas of visual, innovation, and performing arts courses totaling to 1.5 credits needed.

Previously, students could fulfill their arts credit by completing just one visual or performing arts requirement, such as introductory and intermediate photography or chorus and then theater. Now, they must choose at least one semester course from both the visual and performing arts disciplines.

This change aims to provide students with a more comprehensive arts education and boost participation in these disciplines.

“The change really came from all of the art department chairs and me, not from one person. We’ve been engaging in this discussion on and off with the department chairs. Now we are in a position moving forward next year to establish change based on the chairs’ and faculties’ support” clarified Upper School Academic Dean Mrs. Caroline Guzman.

One of the primary motivations behind this change is to address historically low participation rates in arts courses. “Every semester in visual arts I can fill six sections of intro courses but I’ve been unable to fill full sections of intro performing arts courses. Visual classes for the most part have been filing, but the performing arts classes aren’t. Due to this the innovation, visual, and performing arts chairs were all onboard to ensure participation in each requirement was more even,” explained Mrs. Guzman.

Arts Department chair, Señora Salivar, feels that the School’s commitment to the arts should reflect beyond the lower school and hopes that the new requirement will encourage male students to take dance. “I am very excited. We do exploratory arts at the middle school to give everyone a chance to do performing and visual arts. I think truly – in order to have an appreciation for the arts – students need to understand what visual and performing arts are about,” shared Señora Salivar.

Without much negative feedback, the new policy is set to go into effect this fall. “I haven’t gotten any push back. I think it would be the same as when kids push back against any graduation requirement. To prepare kids for college, we try to take a well-rounded approach to education, and we want to provide students with a well-rounded experience and that is what the School has already required,” Mrs. Guzman explained.

While the requirement had been discussed previously, it was deemed impractical because “you have to have a particular type of faculty to be able to teach such a wide array of classes and courses. Unlike previous years, we now have the pieces in place to ensure this can happen with
widespread support,” explained Mrs. Guzman

The faculty is also excited about this new requirement. “Vibrant visual and performing arts departments represent the culture of the school. Throughout history, art serves to record our very human existence. It is important for the fabric of the school to support all facets of fine arts,” shared Mrs. Grillo visual arts department head.

English and drama teacher, Mr. Peck agrees with Grillo and feels that the requirement will allow students to go out of their comfort zone and explore their interests. “In my experience, students sometimes shy away from Performing Arts because they think ‘it’s not my thing.’ I cannot tell you how many students I have had in the past that took an Intro to Theatre course thinking it was only going to ‘fulfill this requirement’ and it sparked something in them where they became regular staples in our program,” explained Peck.

Although the requirement has just been announced, students are already voicing their opinions. “An increase in participation for performing arts classes would be great. This increase would help a lot,” explained Ava Shawe, freshman drama club member and cast member of the musical The Spitfire Grill.

While some students are welcoming the opportunity to broaden their artistic horizons, others are finding the idea of limitations challenging. “I think it’s annoying for them {incoming freshman} because they shouldn’t be forced to have to check certain requirements and do something they don’t want to do, but I do get the fact that it is like any other requirement that exists at Benjamin,” shared freshman Caiden Muzielo.

Everyone acknowledges that this requirement is no different than other requirements the School has in place. By encouraging exploration and participation in both visual and performing arts, Benjamin aims to foster creativity, cultural appreciation, and personal growth among its students.

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About the Contributor
Finley Strauss
Finley Strauss, Staff Writer
Finley Strauss is a staff writer and editor of the Pharcyde. It is her first year at the Benjamin School. Finley is excited to start working on The Pharcyde, especially on opinion pieces. She is in the honor council, JSA, debate, and mock trial. In her free time she enjoys running, spending time with friends, and going to the beach. She plans to become an attorney.

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