4J Feels Effects of Shrunken Art Program

EUGENE, Ore. — 4J administrators say in the past 20 years they cut their art departments in half. Staff, students and the local community are coping with that change.

Those KEZI 9 News spoke to said they were disappointed to see how much that part of our education has changed. And while they understand the budget constraints, they hope folks see how big of an impact nurturing our creative sides has on individuals as a whole.

Though programming has greatly diminished, South Eugene High School’s halls showcase its love for the arts and continued efforts to keep it alive.

“I think without art, school would be a lot more difficult for kids,” said South Eugene High School junior Katie Evans.

Evans says ceramics is one of her favorite classes.

“This is almost like our recess in a way. Since we don’t have those breaks anymore, this is a great time to relax from all the hard parts of school,” Evans said.

Her educators agree.

“It’s so important,” said South Eugene H.S. fine arts teacher Peter Saraceno. “That kept me going through high school, the art classes and the fun I had there.”

While those core courses in math and language arts are key to boosting scores, these classes add a little more to life.

“I think a lot of us recognize that a higher purpose of humanity is in the creative arts and music in terms of a reason for being, and that’s why I think it’s a shame,” said Randy Bernstein, South Eugene High School Principal.

And how can we expect to bridge this gap?

“The government’s taking money away from the schools. It’s the community’s responsibly to provide these opportunities, because if we don’t, nobody else will,” said Susane Reis, Eugene Piano Academy Director.

Reis has teamed up with other local organizations to provide arts advocacy programs for at risk youth. And she along with her fellow art supporters hope the decline isn’t the beginning of the end.

“I hope that for the kids that are in elementary school that by the time they come to high school that arts will be back and roaring like it was years ago when we had funding for it,” Evans said.

4J says it’s doing its best to maintain the arts and elective programs. In fact, this year is an improvement from the last with the addition of both music and physical education courses for at least a quarter in its elementary schools.

To register for the Eugene Piano Academy’s summer program, click here.

To find out more on how you can volunteer or donate to local arts programs through the Lane Arts Council, click here.

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