Founder and executive director of The American Guitar Museum Chris...

Founder and executive director of The American Guitar Museum Chris Ambadjes. The museum website says it has been open since 1992. (Jan. 19, 2011) Credit: Nancy Borowick

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on this country to "spark the creativity and imagination of our people," and to "out-educate" and "out-innovate" the rest of the world ["Obama's appeal for unity," News, Jan. 26]. Students in the fine and performing arts programs in Long Island schools - and throughout this state and nation - are in the pipeline, ready to take on the challenge. However, a property tax cap could prevent this from continuing in the future.

There is a strong relationship between the arts and the skills in creative problem-solving and higher-order thinking that our students will need to be successful in the 21st century economy. Our arts students excel not only in that area, but academically. Many of them are in the top 10 or 20 of their graduating classes, and on the honor roll. In fact, all of the Intel Science Talent Search finalists are involved in their school arts programs.

Long Island music programs have the largest percentage of students selected to the New York State School Music Association's All-State ensembles, and can boast 74 selected to perform in the Music Educators National Conference All-Eastern ensembles in Baltimore this April.

Our art students exhibit works throughout New York and beyond, with groups like the New York State Art Teachers Association. Over the last four years, the Long Island Arts Alliance's Scholar Artist program recognized 280 students for their academic achievements and talents in music, visual and media arts, theater and dance.

John J. Gallagher

Middle Island

Editor's note: The writer is the director of fine arts for the Longwood school district.

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