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Respect the arts, not just athletics Guest Commentary by Elisabeth Shertzer

Devon Sklar for The SPOKE


Try to tell me that lugging around a 30 pound sousaphone on one shoulder for hours at a time in the August heat isn’t as energy-taxing as most sports. However, many students and staff members at Conestoga would not agree with my view. We in the marching band put so much work into our field show every year, slog on in our hot and sweaty uniforms at every parade, that it seems we should be getting more praise. When the girls’ soccer team wins the state championship, the whole school is notified and the principal even makes an announcement. But when our music students make honors such as All-Eastern groups, there is no such widespread elation among the student body, even as acceptance into All-Eastern is quite a feat. There is something wrong with this picture; the balance is off, and it’s a problem that is prevalent not only in Conestoga but also in many other schools across the country. This problem is found all over our district and all around our school. It even affects The

Spoke: every issue has a big sports section in the back, but a section devoted to music and the arts at Conestoga is nowhere to be found. For example, I found no article in the Dec. 17 Spoke about our winter concerts, which took place on Dec. 7 and 10, while five pages of the paper were devoted to sports. Many students were involved in these concerts, and we even played a piece composed by an alumnus of the school, yet no article in the newspaper recognized this. And while 26 of us musicians succeeded in District 12 Band and Orchestra auditions, there was no trace of an article about this achievement. Nor could I find any article about the 13 students who made District Chorus, and I didn’t even find anything about this on the Web site. It just so happens that there is more of an emphasis put on social studies, English, math, science and foreign languages than on music and arts. For instance, it took years for the art and music teachers to convince the administration to finally include Studio Art and AP Music Theory in students’ GPAs. I have personally taken both the Studio Art program and AP

Music Theory, and considering the course load, I don’t understand why the administration was so hesitant about this seemingly simple decision. People have to understand that music and art should not be treated as secondary, unimportant activities. Both the faculty and

We in the marching band put so much work into our field show every year, slog on in our hot and sweaty uniforms at every parade, that it seems we should be getting more praise. the students of Conestoga should learn to appreciate what we do in the Visual and Performing Arts department. Appreciation of and involvement in the arts will enhance our lives as Conestoga students but, more importantly, will benefit and enrich us as we move forward.

Ads indicate sorry education system By Robert Xu Staff Reporter This takes a paper shortage to a whole new level: California calculus teacher Tom Farber has begun selling advertisements on his tests. Citing a lack of funds to pay for the cost of paper, Farber chose advertisements consisting of good luck messages from parents and witticisms from local businesses. On an online site I read about his situation. As I finished the article and headed for the comments section, I readied myself for an onslaught of vitriol directed at this daring teacher. Instead, most of the comments were positive, praising his ingenuity in a difficult situation. While I agree with Farber’s actions in this case, I can’t help but won-

der if we are standing on the brink of a slippery slope. Proponents of inschool advertising cite the economic benefits and relative harmlessness of advertisements. While I see no issue with Nike funding the construction of a gym, I will see an issue when your science class will be brought to you by Sony. Teachers are the most important individuals in society because only they can shape the thoughts of each generation. How can we expect teachers to remain objective if they must worry about appeasing their sponsors? The fact that teachers must resort to courting businesses shows the sorry state of our nation’s education system. As America readies itself for fresh relations with the international community, it must realize that it no longer holds as strong a bargaining position as it once had. The world’s richest man is from India, the world’s most valuable company is located in

Gabriela Epstein/The SPOKE

the United Kingdom, but very few people would agree that we have the world’s brightest schoolchildren. Until we correct the flaws in our

education system, disadvantaged teachers will be forced to follow Farber’s route—the effect on students remains to be seen.

Robert Xu can be reached at


We in the marching band put so much work into our field show every year, slog on in our hot and sweaty uniforms at every parade, that it see...