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Salem High School expands opportunities for student art

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

CONYERS -- Salem High School is getting smart about art.

This school year, the school started ArtSmart, a program that expands opportunities for students to participate in and experience the arts during the school day.

"Not only is it giving students classroom opportunities, spreading the arts during the day makes a major difference," said Jerry Smith, assistant principal at Salem High School, adding that research shows a correlation between studying arts and high verbal and math scores.

The school offers 29 different fine arts classes involving more than 500 students. They take classes in visual arts like drawing and photography, instrumental music like band and music technology, vocal music like chorus and musical theater and theater like acting and production.

Smith said the arts department meets regularly to discuss more options for all SHS students.

"It's not just about getting up and doing a performance," Smith said. "We have a discipline-based arts program."

This school year, the arts department has set up lunchtime concerts in the commons area during which arts programs like show choir, the jazz band and other groups perform at least once a month.

Smith said this entertains and exposes students not involved in the arts and also allows those students who are performing a real-life experience as to what they could encounter in the future if they continue performing.

"It's amazing watching (non-arts) students watching their peers performing, saying, 'I didn't know they could do that,'" Smith said.

This year, the school plans to continue lunchtime concerts and also has several events scheduled until May, including "Almost Maine," a comedy about what happens in frozen months in Maine, and spring band and chorus concerts.