Support arts education

Published 7:44 pm Friday, February 18, 2022

A fine movie on the strength of some fine actors once eloquently stated why the arts are important.

In “Dead Poets Society,” Robin Williams is playing Professor John Keating, an English teacher at an upper-crust boarding school for boys. Many of the boys’ parents want them to become things like doctors, lawyers and accountants and are pushing them toward those careers, to the serious detriment of the mental health of some of the teens.

In a quiet moment in his classroom, with the students’ rapt attention, Keating tells the boys, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

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Keating’s passion for art doesn’t win him any friends among the boys’ parents — nor, for that matter, among the school’s administration.

Thankfully, we’ve progressed beyond the point where most schools have seen the value in artistic pursuits, but with so many priorities, many schools in America still struggle to find the time and resources for arts education.

Thankfully, Suffolk Public Schools provides a variety of arts education options, and there is also a nonprofit organization in town that holds an annual gala supporting the arts. That gala is coming up soon, and we hope you’ll support it.

The Suffolk Education Foundation is holding its seventh annual gala from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on March 16, at the Hilton Garden Inn Riverfront, 100 E. Constance Road. Over the years, it has returned more than $40,000 to support music, theater and visual arts programs in Suffolk Public Schools.

The theme for this year’s gala is “American Road Trip.” Folks can enjoy music performed by the Northern Shores Elementary School Chorus, Nansemond River High School Jazz Band, John Yeates Middle School Chorus, King’s Fork High School Orchestra, John Yeates Middle School Jazz Band and King’s Fork High School Chorus as they play songs that highlight highways, cities, states, landmarks and natural beauty across America. Folks will also be able to see the sites as they view displays of original artwork from elementary, middle and high school students.

Of course, there will be some delicious culinary treats on offer, and desserts will be provided by the culinary arts students from the College & Career Academy at Pruden.

Tickets are $45 a person, and a table for eight is $325. Purchase tickets online at suffolkeducationfoundation.org/gala-for-the-arts-in-sps or contact suffolkEF.contact@gmail.com or call 757-237-3249. If you can’t attend, we strongly encourage you to make a donation on suffolkeducationfoundation.org.