School budgets are tight. Standardized tests are closing in. The arts are often the bullseye for cuts. That is the wrong move to make for school districts. In about six weeks the Liverpool School District will celebrate the fruit of a fine arts program that has set students on the course for succes for generations.
Ten years ago I was a presenter for the innaugural class of the Liverpool Central School District Fine Arts Hall of Fame. The initial class was loaded with superstar instructors who spent entire careers teaching chorus, orchestra, band, theatre, dance and other elements of the arts. They reached students thirsty for a taste of the stage. They reached students dedicated to rehearsal and practice. They reached students in a way that extends deeper than books and written exams.
The Hall of Fame has multiplied in the decade since. I see it sprinkled with my piano teacher, my elementary school music teacher, my orchestra conductor, my rock ensemble director, my stage director, my writing instructor. They are the mentors who made a difference.
On May 19th I have been invited to join them in the Fine Arts Hall of Fame. I will enter as an alumnus of the program. They may have stretched the definition of the category to view broadcast journalism as a Fine Art. In fact, that might be the highest praise ever heaped on a newsperson.
I will join two other friends on the stage that day. Longtime Liverpool teacher and jazz musician Jim Spadafore for whom the honor is overdue. And, my childhood friend Paul Valentino who has been singing his way across Central New York for more than 30 years as the leader of the outstanding band Primetime. Forgive any ommission of others who may also be included in May.
I am not alone in saying those moments on the stage and the hours in rehearsal set the table for who I am today. They developed the confidence and skills that have brought broadcasting success.
I owe a great deal to the arts programs at Liverpool High School when I was a student there. Boards of Education, State Legislatures and taxpayers should keep in mind a strong arts program is an invaluable asset to a community educating and developing children for a promising future.
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