by Luysa Gonzalez, Staff Writer

Visual art programs are less recognized by schools nationally. McEachern High school’s vast variety of elective courses help students find the importance of art programs, so the arts don’t fade away.

Visual arts (VA) is “an outlet for creative and innovative ideas from students,” art teacher Danielle Mege said.

McEachern’s VA classes include Graphic Design, Painting, Drawing, Drawing and Painting, Jewelry, Ceramics, and AP Studio Art. These classes reach students in ways and methods not used in an everyday classroom setting; the classes are extremely hands-on, unlike a literature or math class.

Graphic design works with cameras and editing programs like Adobe Photoshop to create designs for business cards, t-shirts, and notepads, while classes like AP Studio Art 2D and 3D create portfolios using different media that range from drawing charcoal to clay.

“Graphic Design is in everything we see or use every day. For example, the packaging on your cereal box, the label on your milk carton, or the logos and designs on your clothes that you start your day with,” Graphic Design teacher Alicia Baynes said. “Graphic Design helps the world communicate.”

According to Champions of Change, studies show that when introduced to a visual arts class 32 percent of students showed improvement in their academic classes. Students should take advantage of the opportunity to improve their grades and the opportunity to see challenges in a new light. VA courses count as either a Fine Arts, Foreign Language, Career Technology credit that is required to graduate from a Cobb County high school.

“Thinking creatively has always been the reason behind new inventions and ideas,” art teacher Danielle Mege said. “Kids get so used to standardized testing, facts, and information being thrown at them that they forget how to think for themselves.”

A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation about visual arts showed that involvement in the arts is linked with increased ability in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skills. These skills are used in academic classes allowing students to improve their performance.

“With visual arts, you learn to view things from different perspectives and it makes it easier to grasp new concepts in academic classes,” senior Reanna Maiden said. “I’ve been in the arts program since my freshman year and especially in history I’ve improved, I’ve learned facts that don’t usually stick in a regular history class.”
With the number of benefits that VA courses have to offer, their recognition should increase so that they don’t fade away. Instead the VA program should grow and students take advantage of the benefits.