Make Room for Art!

Neya Kidambi ‘22
EE Features Editor

Think back to your first day of art class in elementary school. Walking into that colorful room and smelling the fresh paper, newly unboxed watercolors, and observing all of the creativity surrounding you. For me, the art room became a beautiful splash of color in an otherwise drab, brick school. When I went on to middle school, that bright and blissful feeling associated with art class followed me. I dipped my hands into fresh clay as I sculpted hummingbirds and learned how to use brushes to give my acrylic paintings texture. Life was good.

Until High School. Until AP classes started. Until endless hours of homework per night became a thing.

Freshman year was a change. I no longer had a period of watercolor painting in art class or making metal rings in Tech-Ed or baking in FACS to get me through the day. Instead, for 8 periods straight, I sat in a classroom and took notes. This year, I was determined to change things. I needed a break in the day.

That’s when I stumbled upon Visual Design during my sophomore year. In the short 5 weeks that I have been in this class, I can assure you that the class feels like a family. Students agree that the curriculum is both fun and challenging and from painting outside to playing art jeopardy, Mrs. Durand and Visual Design have become something I look forward to in the day.

For many students taking more challenging classes, their busy schedules omit any chances of exploring creative outlets. This is particularly detrimental, as creativity activates parts of the brain that are designed to reduce stress. The one thing that we lack time for is, in fact, the most beneficial for mental health and reducing academic pressure.

Creative activities flood the brain with dopamine: a neurotransmitter associated with the reward pathways of the brain and feeling good (hey, maybe AP Psych does help). Increasing the brain’s exposure to dopamine is essential for stress-relief and, ultimately, being happy. Dopamine is also a natural antidepressant, giving students a decreased chance of developing depressive tendencies, or decreasing existing symptoms, even temporarily. No amount of cafeteria cookies can compare to long-term happiness.

While taking a creative class also allows students to have a break during the day, it also provides them with credits that they need to graduate. Incoming freshmen are allotted more graduation requirements than our current sophomores and upperclassmen, forcing them to take more art classes. While the other grades don’t have this requirement, it may benefit them to take creative classes to neutralize the rigor of the more advanced classes they take.

Many students worry that they don’t have enough room in their schedules to take art classes when they could be taking more AP classes or academic electives. One alternative to that could be to take one half-year art class, replacing it with an academic elective for the next semester.
According to Forbes, studies show that creativity encourages the right and left hemispheres of a student’s brain to work together, increasing cognitive function. This has been scientifically proven to improve academic performance. Taking an art class essentially makes you smarter, making you better equipped to handle those harder AP classes.

Graduation credits, stress relief, and getting smarter? Sign me up!

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