Art department acclimates to change

Jeongin Kim, Staff Writer

It is often the art department that is subject to the school’s first budget cuts. Arguably being undervalued even under normal circumstances, quarantine has strained the arts in school even more. Unlike most other classes, visual arts and performing arts require face-to-face teaching. The typical lessons that would occur in class have been difficult to translate digitally. Still, Dulaney teachers have learned to acclimate.

“It is definitely a challenge to put together distance learning for what should be an instrumental music class. I’ve been working with what the Office of Music and Dance has provided, as well as tweaking and altering
assignments for some classes where I can to address more what those classes were about,” said band teacher
Matthew Benner.

Similarly, choir teacher Christina Senita has adjusted the county-provided resources to make lessons more suitable for her students.

“The county’s music office was very supportive in making sure that we would have resources to use. However, with a system as large as BCPS, it is understandable that these lessons and resources were very generalized. So, using the same national standards embedded in the provided work, I went a little off-road and created my own lessons and catered them to my students,” she said.

Aside from technical adaptations, the art department has also made sure that visual arts students have enough supplies to still participate in class.

“The county is offering supply kits that students can order directly through Schoology. The kits offer a range of media and paper and are supposed to start going out this week. Hopefully, this will supplement student’s art supplies until we can return to the building,” said fundamental and intermediate art teacher Dena Fiat.

While the art department has made great strides in remote learning, the one thing they cannot make changes to is the cancellation of school events.

“There were a number of things that my students and I lost out on because of the pandemic: the musical was supposed to have run the week after we initially shutdown. Wind Ensemble had been preparing for all of the end-of the-year performances they had,” said Benner.

Senita agreed with the students missing out on events that they had been looking forward to.
“These are students who consistently look to the spring events as the best demonstration of a year’s worth of work and to have gotten so close to it, and then nothing? It’s quite jarring,” said Senita.

Though these are trying times, the arts teachers are doing their best to keep morale up and to look out for their students.
“We are fed by the connections we build with our students and the reward of being with them through challenging situations and helping them find their way. For this year, I have relied on the relationships that I built with my students,” said Senita.
Under normal circumstances, it’s easy to take art for granted. It doesn’t seem essential because it’s an activity
of leisure. While it may be true that certain jobs are of greater necessity, art is not trivial.
“The humility in teaching is one of my most favorite components. Getting to know students, their interests,
their personalities and seeing how that translates into their work is truly magical,” said Fiat.
Additionally, art connects people in finding ways to express themselves without words and share that with our loved ones.
“Out of this I have received so many amazing projects, reflections and perspectives from my students, and I have come to appreciate and love them even more,” said Senita.
For many, quarantine has allotted time that we haven’t had before. And as our day’s options are now limited,
we find ourselves in need of entertainment. And art, whether made by us or someone else, is where we find