Arts and Music at MSMHS

Understandably, Marine Science has a lot of marine science classes — but what about art?

Arts and Music at MSMHS
Without art-focused courses, some students express their creativity beyond the classroom. Artwork by Sierra Chagnon.
By Samuel Lund

As course selection time begins, some students have pointed out MSMHS's lack of art-based classes that are common in other public schools. With a marine-focused magnet theme — and state-of-the-art facilities for boating and aquaculture — science and aquaculture class feature prominently on the course selection roster. However, some students say that they would appreciate more art and music courses offered at the school.

An article by Nancy Daugherty for the National Endowment for the Arts highlights the benefits of art for students and educators, saying “Participation in the arts can support the social and emotional learning needs of students, including teaching emotional regulation and compassion for others.” Researchers in the Department of Fundamental Neurosciences at the University of Geneva found that children who participated in music had better verbal memory, second language pronunciation, reading ability, and executive functions (planning, focusing, memory, et cetera). The study determined that playing an instrument as a child could raise IQ and predict how well those children would do in school.

Gabriel Frommer, a junior at MSMHS and a member of multiple regional choirs, agrees with these ideas. “Music enables people to connect with their emotions and help them focus.” For him, there are multiple benefits to music. “Music complements mental creativity and cognitive function. There have been many studies that prove listening to classical music correlates with a more productive studying time.” Frommer says. He continues: music “allows people to step out of their comfort zones,” and helps to “unlock the mind.” Other students agree, with one MSMHS student saying that art allows students to showcase their talents, acting as a “medium of self-expression.”

MSMHS principal Ms. Amatrudo agrees with these statements, saying that “creative expression and exploration through the arts can be a gateway to deeper learning and personal wellbeing.” However, the focus on science at MSMHS often leaves students to their own devices when learning and practicing their art. Gabriel Frommer explains: “young musicians have to stick to their music studios and expand their qualifications and skills on their own.”

The debate is far from one-sided. Other students appreciate the focus on science over art. “It allows more money and resources to be put into the great aquaculture system of the Marine Science Magnet High School.” an anonymous student explained.

Ms. Amatrudo urges students to take advantage of artistic opportunities outside of the classroom. “I would love to see our students accessing arts and music education in partnership with community organizations or area colleges or universities.” Ms. Amatrudo says, “connecting our marine science theme to artistic expression and vice versa.”

The students and faculty here at MSMHS recognize the importance of the arts while also holding an appreciation for the unique marine facilities at our school. Ultimately, this issue will likely be a topic of discussion and change for years to come.