The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

Should art credit be required for high school graduation?

Conrad Berke
A poster of art-focused careers by the College for Creative Studies. It hangs from the door of 1-4, where art and CTE teacher Gwen Sidley instructs students on digital filmmaking, digital communications, and journalism.

Woodside High School, as well as Universities of California (UC) and California State Universities (CSU) currently requires students to take one year of a visual and performing arts class, or 10 credits of art, in order to graduate. But do students and teachers think this policy is necessary?

Woodside offers a large spectrum of art classes, including ceramics, filmmaking, animation and drama – just to name a few. In recent years, many universities across the nation have undergone related admission modifications, such as becoming test optional. While there is currently no administrative talk on the removal or reduction of the art credit requirement, is it time for Woodside to make some alterations?

“When you are forced to take an art class, you are exposed to that world – the world of art, the world of imagination – it just opens everything up for you,” Drama and theatrical productions teacher Barry Woodruff said. “I just think it’s so desperately important, no matter what you’re into, no matter what field you’re going into.”

Some art teachers, such as Mr. Woodruff, are firmly against removing the art requirement. Proponents of the requirement cite how crucial art is to the development of a student, and for that matter, a person.

“Art is [getting] to express yourself, getting to practice your imagination,” Woodruff said. “Whether it’s music, theater, art, ceramics, sculpting, whatever… [Art] would just expand [students] horizons and it would just give them a broader look at life.”

However, some aren’t convinced that art is necessary for the success and growth of students.

“Personally, I don’t think you should need an art to graduate,” Junior and Guitar 1 student Nathan Mooney said. “I see it more as a hobby and more like your own interests, rather than [being] needed.”

Those against the art requirement bring up that many students prefer taking other classes and express a general lack of interest or enthusiasm for the arts.

“I don’t think we should force people into art — that is very much against the point of art,” Junior Spencer Bergland said. “What is the point of expression and presentation, if you hate everything you’re doing in the process.”

Middle ground stands in the debate, with different twists on the art requirement having arisen. While some students and teachers may be against or for the removal of art as a high school, and even UC/CSU, requirement, many don’t want it to be entirely removed or entirely maintained.

“I think we should absolutely have students engage with the arts, as it’s an important kind of cultural experience,” Music production and audio production teacher Raphael Kauffmann said. “Personally, I’d love to see kids take more art. I’ve not done any reading or research that says one year satisfies or creates that level of knowledge or mastery.”

Page 15 of the Woodside student planner, which goes over course offerings for students (Conrad Berke)

Kauffmann is not the only teacher who shares this sentiment. Some teachers think two years should be the minimum requirement, on par with the number of years of science students must take to graduate Woodside High School or enter UC/CSU schools.

“I think, maybe, two years [of art] would be great,” Woodruff said. “And if somebody didn’t [like the first class], they could try another. If they tried Theater Arts and didn’t care for that, maybe they could try other arts, maybe filmmaking or graphic arts or ceramics.”

While many believe the art requirement should be extended, others think it’s just the right amount.

“The graduation requirement is one year of Visual and Performing Arts and I think that is definitely enough,” Bergland said. “It’s good for exposure, but I feel like requiring more than a year of art would just be excessive when someone really has no interest. I definitely don’t think [the current credit requirement] should be increased, [but] I don’t think half a year of art is really worth it.”

Woodside currently offers 15 visual and performing arts classes, including the different levels of art (ex. Drama I, II, III, etc.). Other schools in the district have art classes that aren’t offered at Woodside, such as Menlo Atherton High School, which provides AP Art History, and Sequoia High School, which gives students the option of taking Woodshop and Piano classes.

“I do think that something like game design, which combines art and computer science, would be really cool to do,” Kauffmann said.

Yet even among the discussion of adding art classes, there is no one consensus. Some aren’t sure that more options is such a good idea.

“I think we actually have too many choices, because I think people can only concentrate on a certain amount,” Woodruff said.

As of now, it’s unclear whether there will be any changes to the art credit requirement or the current art offerings.

“It’s been said that a life well lived is an art and living well is an art,” Woodruff said. “Art is all about beauty and truth.”

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About the Contributor
Conrad Berke
Conrad Berke, Beat Editor
Conrad Berke is a senior and third-year journalist. He enjoys writing about sports, culture, and opinion pieces. In his free time, Conrad enjoys watching soccer games, listening to music, playing Magic: The Gathering, and spending time with friends and family.

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