APS students grateful for experiences
Editor’s note: The following two letters were submitted by Sally Schneider, director of choirs for Firestone High School, who wrote: “I have two seniors who have represented FHS [Firestone High School] and APS [Akron Public Schools] through literally hundreds of civic/community/professional appearances with the Firestone choirs over the past four years. Both are products of the Akron School of the Arts program in the vocal division. Madeline [Piscetta] specifically transferred to us from Highland her sophomore year to take advantage of the choral music curriculum (and brought her tax dollars with her). Both students have received great financial benefits from the development of their skills/talents and wanted to share them with APS administrators as well as the Greater Akron community.”
To the editor:
Dear Akron Public Schools,
For the past nine years I have been immersed in the Akron School of the Arts program of Akron Public Schools, beginning with Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts and ending with Firestone High School Vocal Music program. It is because of the exposure that these programs have given to me that I even considered a career in music and the several different avenues it has to offer. The opportunities are endless with the arts and having such a beneficial program in the Akron Public Schools shouldn’t be taken lightly and should be held in very high regard. It is because of these programs that students succeed in and outside of the classroom. The discipline and technique learned in the various arts programs is very applicable to the tools needed to tackle the challenges of everyday life.
The teaching of sophisticated cultural expectations at Miller South was very helpful when preparing for the transition to the Firestone arts program. The rigorous curriculum of Music Theory I/II as well as History and Analysis continues to help students become more effective, competitive musicians as they perfect their personal technique. This curricular track has helped me to achieve a full tuition music scholarship to major in music education at Capital University.
The students who immerse themselves in the arts programs in the Akron Public Schools are better citizens because of the discipline, skill, and technique they’ve learned and the exposure to the outside world they’ve received.
Jalen Mitchell, West Akron
Dear Akron Public Schools,
I am writing to you to express what the Visual and Performing Arts program at Firestone High School (now Akron School for the Arts, ASA) has done for me and how crucial it is to the school and the Akron Public School system. I am a senior in the Choral Department at ASA and transferred to the school for the start of my sophomore year. Since being at here, the music education I have received is far beyond anything I would receive at any other high school.
Recently I completed my college auditions and have been accepted and given scholarships to DePauw University, Capital University, Ithaca College and the University of Miami Frost School of Music for vocal performance. These successes are not only a result of personal work, but also of the education I have received at school. The opportunities for students are truly amazing. Our music theory and history classes give us knowledge of what exactly it is we are doing when we make music, and then we expand upon that knowledge in the choirs, orchestra and bands. Being a member of the choirs, I have learned so much from my teachers and what they offer us. They give the students various experiences, such as the clinicians who we are fortunate to have worked with, competitions that challenge our abilities, and school trips that give us cultural exposure. In class we are taught to work constructively by identifying our strong and weak points and then working to address them as a team. These lessons have helped me in the world of music, but they are applicable in daily life as well. The quality of our teachers is the greatest asset we and the school have: without them we would not have the opportunities or the challenging curriculum that we currently do. The arts program truly helps students to grow and shape themselves into the young adults they want to become.
I know there are possible changes to be made with so many arts teachers leaving, and I cannot stress enough to you how important it is to uphold the standards that are now in place and preserve the excellent program. Not only does ASA help give students like me a crucial education, but it also elevates the culture of the school and community as well. By providing such a program to students, we are more engaged in school and willing to learn. It brings in students like me from other schools who are searching for that knowledge of music and who help add to the diverse population at Firestone. I can honestly say that of all the classes I have taken at Firestone, the ones I have learned from and benefitted from the most are the arts classes. They are so much a part of what makes Firestone the excellent school that it is, and taking them away would jeopardize that excellence that we all have worked so hard to build and uphold.
I hope students in the classes after me will be able to continue to receive the education that has so greatly benefitted me and those before me.
Madeline Piscetta, Sharon
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