Art and self-expression come in many forms, and the opportunities to explore those forms are abundant through Fairmont High School’s Performing Arts and Art departments.
Walking through the halls of the Performing Arts Department, students and staff can hear a wide array of sounds coming from the classrooms. From classical to rock to jazz and all genres in between, the music classes at Fairmont offer students a wide variety of learning opportunities. Elsewhere in the building, Fairmont’s visual arts programs expose students to classes ranging from drawing to sculpting and photography to painting.
One of the three music programs in the Music Department at Fairmont is orchestra. Each of the three different orchestras is conducted by a different teacher. Richard Wright, conductor of Symphony Orchestra, encourages Fairmont students to get involved in music in any way they can.
“Music has a huge role in students’ lives,” said Wright. “Being involved in music can enhance a student’s higher-order thinking skills because there’s so much involved in music.” Wright sees many advantages for students in the music programs. “I hope they come away with a lot and learn how to connect with music on a level they couldn’t before.”
Much like Wright, Director of Bands and Kettering District Music Coordinator Michael Berning also sees positive ways music can affect a student’s life. “In addition to music helping students develop higher-order thinking skills, benefits from playing music also include developing many communication skills,” Berning said. “These positive effects include gaining the ability to work in a group, whether it be with the whole band or just an individual section, which is a skill that benefits a student inside as well as outside of the band room.”
Students also develop on a more personal level through music. “For some students, involvement in a performing group becomes a major part of their school life at FHS, and so to stay in the group, they know they must be positive members of the school community and keep up their grades,” said Berning. In this way, membership in an ensemble encourages students to be better people. “For some students who do not necessarily thrive academically, music can be the thing that keeps them coming to school each day and improving attendance.”
Junior Ashley York is involved in the third music program at Fairmont, the choir. “I really liked singing when I was younger but couldn’t in middle school because I was in band,” said York. “When I got to high school and learned I could do both, I went for it.”
York believes that her involvement in music gives her “an edge” in class, and she encourages her peers to also get involved in music as well. “Sometimes when people approach me and say they feel like they’re missing something in school, I encourage them to try music,” said York. “You don’t know what you’re missing out on until you try it, and it usually turns out that music is the thing that they’re missing.”
Choir Director Brody McDonald sees music as a huge part of Fairmont students’ lives as well. “One out of every four students at Fairmont is involved in music,” said McDonald. “It enhances our sporting events, pep rallies, assemblies and more. Music is a great positive link to our community.”
McDonald sees the academic benefits of music as well as the personal ones. “Music has been shown to help students perform better in all their academic studies, and it’s a great way to break up the monotony of school as well.”
Art, however, is not restricted to music. Fairmont is also home to a wide range of visual art classes – sculpting, crafts, AP art, cartooning and more. AP art teacher Candy Clark encourages all students to get in touch with their creative side.
“I feel that these classes provide a good foundation for students to go and be successful in whatever profession they choose,” said Clark. “It’s a creative outlet that gives students a calming and satisfying environment for self-expression.” Clark sees students put forth a lot of effort in creating their works in her classes.
All of these creative classes offer students outlets for self-expression and a way to spend time with their friends. Being creative helps students in their core classes as well. McDonald knows that these classes give students skills that will help them throughout their lives.
“Music builds better students,” he said, “because music is a place where getting 100 percent is just the beginning.”