My grandson, Damien, found his gift for music in marching band at New Smyrna Beach Middle School. I realized how much he loved it when I saw him performing in a parade down Canal Street. Damien is in college now, and he’s still playing his trumpet!

The arts are good for children (and their parents).

Many of our students have their first official exposure to the arts in elementary school, where all Volusia County School students take music and art classes each year. When they reach middle and high school, students choose from a wide range of fine arts electives in visual arts, music, dance, and theater. Electives are so important – they can lead us to our interests for lifelong enjoyment!

Young people’s natural talents are often discovered in performance and creativity-based classes. When they excel, it inspires them to find similar successes in other academic subjects. The arts are interwoven in core subjects, and children learn in the ways that come most naturally for them.

Participation in drama, visual arts, band, dance, and chorus provides a “home” for students – a place where they practice and learn and thrive, make friends for life, and find camaraderie with families with similar interests. Rehearsals and performances serve as positive after-school activities. Research shows these classes and programs motivate students to work hard in school, graduate, and go on to college and careers.

Personally, I love attending as many performances as I can each year! I especially enjoy musical theater at Spruce Creek High School and All County Music concerts. One of my favorite venues for music is the amphitheater at the Port Orange City Center.

For visual arts, I am very proud of a community partnership we developed earlier this year to have the artwork of students at New Smyrna Beach and Spruce Creek high schools displayed at businesses in the Canal Street Historic District. The art is rotated every few months to spotlight the work of more students and allow business patrons to see the diverse talent being developed by our art teachers in Volusia County Schools. And the students get the opportunity to experience the feeling of being a professional artist.

The School Board recently approved another exciting partnership – this one with the Peabody Auditorium Foundation. The new In-School Touring and Scholarship program will bring live cultural performances and scholarships to our students. The program will serve more than 7,000 students annually as part of the Peabody Auditorium Foundation’s Youth+Art=Success outreach program.

So, you can see that the arts are alive in Volusia County Schools!

I encourage you to give your children opportunities to dabble in a variety of fine arts. At the secondary level, their guidance counselor can get them registered for these classes. You never know what your children are capable of until you expose them!

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