We’re Not Making Things Out of Macaroni

Van Goghs Starry Night

Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

Olivia Hunchak, Staff Writer

Growing up I always dabbled in the arts. From music to drama to writing, I was all over the board; lucky that I had teachers who valued such activities as I was growing up. They wanted to broaden my horizons and awaken creativity.  During my graduating year, that’s exactly what I will continue to do.

But as I sit and write this, and as technology distracts us more and more from creative endeavour and teachers are forced to rework their curricula due to budget cuts, I wonder what will happen to the arts moving ‘forward’?  We are consumed by our desire for the best and the newest, the fastest internet or the glossiest screen. What will happen to our actors, our artists, our writers and our musicians?  Will they continue to flourish in our emerging world, or will they fade from existence? Will they be prominent in schools, or just like the first Iphone, fade into oblivion?  Because we aren’t talking about glue and macaroni, we’re talking about the identity of being an artist.

Walking along Fine Arts Hallway of KSS was a refreshing reminder that the Arts here are still very prominent, with paintings and visuals, sculptures and props.  The arts are vibrant and alive within the school, bringing to life a sense of wonder and childish imagination, that sadly seems to get lost along the road through adolescence.

Luckily, KSS has been blessed with some extraordinary Arts teachers who pave the way for students rigged to create. Mr. Derksen, the Media Arts teacher at KSS has always valued the Arts. I asked him some of the questions clashing in my head:  Are the Arts as prominent as he would like them to be?  Will the arts experience a slow death at the hands of the very technological meant to rescue us? Mr Derksen states, “There are people who habitually turn to technology and the internet for inspiration.  And it’s true you can do in a virtual world what you can’t do in real life, and may be considered creating art, for example, doctoring an image in Adobe Photoshop or editing a video on Premiere Pro.” Mr. Derksen, who has been the Fine Arts Department Head at KSS for the past five years (and taught everything from Mathematics to PhysEd) believes that teachers of the Arts carry an important responsibility.  “The paradox,” he says, “is that all of us in the Arts believe that what we’re doing is important, but we don’t want to shout it from the rooftops, when we should be doing just that.   I think we can always do a better job of promoting the Arts.”

For many, the Arts build identity, and as Derksen puts it,  “The Arts reflect life and they give us a glimpse of where we’re going as a society because they’re so diverse.” The Arts programs at KSS welcome one and all to join and they encourage people to experience something fun and new. They give students an outlet, a place to call home when there might be nowhere else. And even if there is, the Fine Arts Hallway of KSS embodies childish wonder and creative expression.

Continuing on the journey for the arts within the school I found myself sitting in the drama room, the so called hub of the Arts, where students can come to lose themselves in the blur of lights and sounds, the characters and the props. Mrs. Elliott, the drama teacher of KSS who does an incredible job of putting on stunning performances every year, believes that “The Arts absorb the technology, Arts adapt to technology and move along side it.” Mrs. Elliott, who incorporates technology in the drama productions she produces, says that the arts are still valued as, “they are what kids want, they come to school for the Arts.”

 “In the new British Columbia Curriculum, there is a real push for individualized learning,” says Elliot. “But there is also a big push for communication, thinking and social growth, and all that mixed together, that is the Arts.” Arts have always been intergrated into the school system but as we move forward my initial fear is that we are watering them down, siphoning their core value. But as Mrs. Elliot states, “The Arts will always be here, same as the Sciences and the Sports.  A sport is an artistic performance, just as an artistic performance is a sport…”  Art is a way of expressing identity, it’s a way of expressing thought through movement, and speech, and other artistic media. It’s a universal code that is built into our bodies, one way or another. And KSS is blessed with teachers in the Fine Arts programs who want showcase student work and creativity.

Throughout my walk of the KSS Art Hall, it’s clear the Arts are as alive as ever, reflected in every sculpture or picture I see. The Fine Arts teachers of Kelowna Secondary reassert the importance of creative thought and expression every day.

The Arts programs keep students at KSS involved, they show them how to create and visualize, how to talk to peers and explore their minds. As I finish my last year at Kelowna Secondary, I realize with a smile that it has been a privilege to be a part of such an amazing community, a community full of artists and creators, musicians and photographers, and writers and actors.

It makes me sad that departure is on the horizon, yet gives me hope for the future of the Arts at KSS, because without the teachers sharing their masterful crafts, we would all till be gluing macaroni and sticks to a page full of glitter.