On April 9, Ian Mackenzie’s letter regarding the importance of the school district being a leader in teaching the arts was published in KTW.
We could not agree with MacKenzie more.
While he is correct that the board of education has highlighted numeracy as a high priority item in this year’s budget, it is not at the expense of funding for arts.
In fact, the board has made it a priority to maintain funding for expanded arts programming even in the face of previous budget shortfalls.
The Kamloops-Thompson school board has a long history of supporting arts education through myriad curricular opportunities for students to experience and participate in the arts.
The board has invested heavily in enhancements through district-sponsored music, performing arts, visual arts and creative writing endeavours.
We have preserved the district strings program and we fund a fine-arts co-ordinator.
The co-ordinator provides mentoring and professional development for our teachers, while also supporting the District Honours Choir, the Kamloops-Thompson Children’s Choir, the District Honour Band, the District Jazz Band, the District Secondary Art Show and Curatorial Workshop, the Young Artists Conference and the Young Authors Conference.
In addition, every elementary student is able to experience five Young People’s Concerts each year, where they are exposed to professional theatre and concert performances.
The majority of our secondary schools have dedicated music instructors who teach courses such as band, jazz band, choir and guitar.
Many of our elementary schools have choirs and drumming.
We have music kits and instruments available for teachers to borrow through the district library program at the Henry Grube Education Centre.
We have dedicated drama teachers who often support drama club productions that showcase the talents of their students. We are proud of our fine-arts teachers who nurture students’ drawing, sculpting and photography skills.
At the Kamloops School of the Arts school of choice, the curriculum is taught through the arts.
Students not only study the performing and visual arts, but are required to use the arts to support learning in all areas of the curriculum.
We support the work of Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music by promoting its programming in our schools and we ensure there is rental space available for their summer program each year.
This past year, we partnered with the Thompson Rivers University Choir, the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra Choir to provide those students in the Kamloops Thompson Honour Choir and the Children’s Choir the opportunity to practise and perform with professional musicians.
That partnership has borne fruit in that several of our students continue to practice with the TRU Choir and plan on taking art and music courses at TRU once they graduate from high school.
We also support the arts in our community with our partnership with the Western Canada Theatre Company by providing funding for the maintenance and operation of Sagebrush Theatre.
Sagebrush is booked every day of the year with a plethora of arts groups, including children’s dance performances, musical performances, comedy shows, concerts, speakers, theatrical productions and other community events.
The arts are alive and thriving in our schools and the board will continue to work hard to ensure every student has the opportunity to experience a quality education that includes a rich arts curriculum.
As Mackenzie so eloquently wrote in his recent letter to the editor, “We are in peril if we do not invest in them in a substantial way. By all means train the intellect, but at the same time priorize the soul.”
Kathleen Karpuk is chair of the Kamloops-Thompson board of education. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.