Taking Art to a New Level at HWRSD


Sydney Amero

Landscapes Drawn By Students in Studio Art 2 At Hamilton Wenham Regional High School

At Hamilton Wenham students are surrounded by a competitive and rigorous academic environment. Students are pushed and challenged in STEM, history, English, and foreign language. In a school where excellence is not only encouraged, but expected in students, one would expect every field of learning would offer students the option to demonstrate their skills.

The reality is that the arts are deeply undervalued in society. Despite the wealth of evidence that proves that art is a fundamental element of our civilization, people often neglect the importance of the arts.

Art is a crucial tool in the realm of child development. Studies done by PBS regarding the development of children show that art has various developmental benefits for children in regards to motor skills, language development, decision making, visual learning, inventive thinking, and improved academic performance.

Art has also surfaced as an important resource for psychologists. According to Psychology Today, art therapy has allowed patients of all ages to improve self-esteem, manage addictions, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and cope with physical illness or disability. 

Despite this information, the narrative that pursuing ones passions in the arts isn’t viable or important is still very prevalent. This idea that arts are less valid, and less important than other subjects or fields is reinforced by the academics at Hamilton Wenham. 

Illustration student Dylan Kagan, works on their latest art project (Sydney Amero)

The AP classes currently offered at Hamilton Wenham Regional High School include: English 12, Statistics, Calculus, Computer Science, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, US History, Psychology, Economics, Spanish Language, and Spanish Literature.  Art is the only subject where there are no AP or honors options for students. 

By not offering art courses at a higher level, our school is sending a message to artistic students that their interests and pursuits are not as valid, and that the only important parts of education are the core subjects like math or science. It denies students the opportunity to gain college credit and experience, and prevents them from having the opportunity to explore and navigate the more challenging elements of art. 

Art students at Hamilton-Wenham have expressed that when they are signing up for classes every year, they are stuck having to choose between their academic pursuits and their passions. Students often feel a need to give up art classes because they are only offered for a CP credit.

Oliver Fisher working hard on a project for class (Sydney Amero)

One of the major arguments against bringing higher-level art classes to HWRSD is that there would be a lack of interest or participation. There is a simple solution to this, if there is not enough participation to have one full class of honors or AP art, do a combined honors/CP class. This is something that is already being done at HWRHS with classes like journalism where honors and CP are combined into one class.

Students should be allowed to take art at an honor or AP level. In order for these courses to be offered, students at Hamilton Wenham Regional High School need to reach out to their art teachers and administration and express interest in taking art at a higher level. 

It’s time to validate art students.