Everyone sang the praises of the Santa Clara High School Visual and Performing Arts Department at its annual Day of the Arts Exhibition April 2. During the day, teachers brought their students to the small gymnasium to view traditional paintings, digital art, photos, and ceramics. Come evening, families and friends dropped by.
“The arts department does a great job with the students. There’s a lot of incentive to be creative,” says Torey, a senior who has taken ceramics, painting, and woodshop and plans one day to build and decorate guitars.
Students respond to art prompts such as designing a family flag, designing an African mask, and inserting a digital image of themselves into a historical photograph then writing about how they would have changed history had they been present at the event.
“We have more signups [for art classes] than we can fill. We have a teaching team that inspires and engages the students,” says Principal Greg Shelby. “We’re putting out some budding artists we’re really proud of.”
Within the last year and a half, four dedicated art classrooms have been established—for painting, ceramics, media and photos, and digital arts.
“We’ve been able to retain active art programs despite difficult cuts caused by reduced funding the last eight years,” says Santa Clara Unified School Board member Andrew Ratermann. “We recognize that academics encompass a broad array of skills, including the arts, design, and social skills.”
“There are more kids than ever who haven’t made anything with their hands. They can butter their toast or cut their carrots, but they haven’t created anything with the complexity of art,” says Visual and Performing Arts Department chair Neil Woodman.
“It’s absolutely fun to make your own things. It’s empowering and gives a sense of ownership. Students can learn planning skills through art as they fine tune their projects,” says art and woodshop instructor Jason Fery.
“There are great vibes in art classes. We see kids at their best,” says Woodman.
The Santa Clara High School animation classes really have something to crow about. This year, the annual FaultLine Animation Festival, launched at SCHS in 2010 by animation instructor Jay Dold, will be held May 17th at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.