Support theater students

Published 9:45 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012

After-school arts programs, like other after-school activities like sports, clubs and volunteerism, are an important part of the education system because they help produce well-rounded students.

However, the arts programs are unfunded by the school system, so they count on community support to help them achieve their goals.

The Nansemond River High School theater arts program hopes to meet one such goal when it travels to Reston to defend its 2011 Virginia High School League regional title at the Virginia Theater Association’s High School Theater Festival later this month.

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But the students need to raise $8,000 to get there. As a result, they are producing the classical Greek play “Medea,” which will be staged Oct. 23 for donation admissions.

Parents at the school started the Nansemond River Performing Arts Booster Club to seek corporate donors and raise money for the trip and other activities.

But rather than simply asking for a handout, the theater students are working for their money. The extra performance has required hours of preparation and will be sure to delight community members.

The effect of arts education on students has been well-documented. A national study conducted by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles found students with high arts involvement performed better on standardized tests, watched fewer hours of television, participated in more community service and reported less boredom in school. Data from the College Board, the group that administers the SAT, show that students’ scores generally increased with each additional arts course they took.

The positive outcomes of arts education could go on and on, according to data compiled by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Students’ motivation to learn, literacy skills, confidence and many other outcomes show correlations to the amount of arts education they have received.

Members of the community are encouraged to attend the play Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. and support these fine students in their bid to represent their school and the city. It will pay dividends far in the future.