Athens Banner Herald
by Lee Shearer
While many school systems cut teachers, time and funding for music and other art programs after the long recession, the Clarke County Board of Education did the opposite, expanding those programs.
One result is that hundreds of Clarke County schoolchildren are lifting their voices in song, plucking strings and blowing horns this week, preparing to show their parents and others what they’ve learned. More than a dozen concerts and other music programs are scheduled in the schools through Dec. 18, beginning with the Clarke Central High School band’s holiday concert at 6 p.m.today.
The musical offerings will include choral, band and orchestra concerts by high school and middle school student groups and winter musical programs at elementary schools.
“Certainly research is out there showing the connections between music and learning, but more importantly, I just don’t think we ought to lose the arts,” said Clarke County School Superintendent Phil Lanoue.
Each of Clarke County’s elementary schools now has a music teacher and an art teacher, and middle and high school students can explore music in chorus, band and orchestra classes.
The school district has gotten a lot of help from the community to keep its arts programs strong.
AthFest Educates donated $20,000 to the school system this year to buy instruments, sponsor workshops for students and teachers and pay for field trips, for example. AthFest Educates has donated more than $125,000 for arts programs in the school district over the past three years.