Letter: Don't cut arts in middle school

District superintendent for finance Anne Marie Marrone Caliendo

District superintendent for finance Anne Marie Marrone Caliendo speaks to an auditorium filled to capacity about the district's finances during an open informational meeting of the Half Hollow Hills school district board of education concerning the 2013-2014 budget. (Jan. 8, 2013) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

I disagree with the logic provided by the Half Hollow Hills School District in considering moving from a nine- to an eight-period day in its two middle schools ["District may eliminate 1 class period," News, Feb. 4].

According to James Ptucha, the school board president, there would be "minimal to no" educational impact resulting from a "reduction in course offerings in such subjects as music, art, health and sixth-grade world language." As a proponent of the arts, I find that statement both alarming and disturbing.

While there has been a recent focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), there is also a national movement to change the emphasis to STEAM, with the "A" for arts.

Children learn skills from the arts, which help them think creatively to solve real-world problems. The skills include creativity, confidence, perseverance, focus, nonverbal communication, evaluating constructive feedback, collaboration, dedication and accountability.

If these programs are cut, the long-term impact would be disastrous. If the opportunity for the arts is not provided in middle school, students won't return to them in high school. In the end, it's the students who will lose.

Susan Naftol, Plainview

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