Monday, March 3, 2014

Thanks to the Natives

On the heels of last night's Oscars, I am bringing back a quick clip from 2012.  Listen closely as 30 sixth graders from Warm Springs Middle School Film Art Class cheer "Art Integration: Raising Student Assets!"

Look closely,... perhaps such a class, which utilized the techniques of film technology, math, reading, music and creativity (all closely designed to follow the West Virginia Content Standard and Objectives), just may be the impetus to produce a future red carpet Oscar nominee.

After all, Art Integration is designed to excite the mind while enhancing existing academic objectives.  Art Integration is a proven method from the U.S. Department of Education which is known to improve a students success in math and science as well as personal assets.

Not only did these 30 students participate in the creation and development of a film entitled "Where is the Love?", the the entire class of 160 children took part in it's development.  Their final creation has been viewed 695 times on youtube!  (Check it out here:  Not bad for a small town..

Why do I post this?  Well, because this "native" 48-year-old-grey-haired-PDblogging-hott-mama-of-four was given an assignment by the Morgan Arts Council to research Art Integration and present a proposal to the Board of Education.  Since 2012, hundreds of students have had the opportunity to work one-on-one with an artist from sculptors, dancers, actors, to musicians in the classroom with our school's Art Integration and Adopt-a-School programs.

This "native" grew up in the 1970's when the New World Theater visited our Berkeley Springs High School with then Theater Director, Glenn Wells (God, I miss that man!).

This "native" graduated cum laud in the 1980's with a Bachelors of Arts (yes, arts) in Theater from the University of Massachusetts.

This Morgan County "native" worked professionally in the 1990's in theater arts administration in Amherst, MA, Chicago, IL, and Frederick, MD.

Having returned home, being a part of developing Art Integration in my home county was more than just giving back to the community that instilled the importance of the arts and learning in me.  Watching the arts be attacked is heart breaking.

Also heart breaking is witnessing a 9 year old from a "native" family struggle with reading.  She shyly sits at the back table with a group of others having a difficult time understanding basic concepts.  I've been to her house.  I've met her daddy.  The arts would never, never be affordable for this economically challenged family yet even accepted by her close minded, (yes, I said "closed minded"...) father (at least I didn't say "d.a.r.n.").

When I passed her table, she looked up at me under unwashed, untrimmed bangs with eyes the size of small planets.  "Mrs. Hott"  she said, "did you know cheetahs are ex... ext...  extinct?"  Then she went on to read rare animal facts to me one syllable at a time.

She was participating in a endangered animal clay class with artist, Lynn Lavin.

Art Integration works.  I've seen it.  Research proves it.

With the failure of the levy which provided $5.8 million per year in Morgan County, not only arts programming has been cut.  The Morgan Messenger headlined on February 26th that "School board cuts 27 jobs, reduces days & duties for 173 school workers next year".   With three Hott children of my own still in school here, it makes me want to vomit.

Shame on the "natives" for not voting on the levy and creating this terrible mess.  And shame on those natives that moved away and stopped caring about Morgan County enough to call home and encourage those left here to vote for the levy.  Stop being amused by the conflict.  Stop being tired of hearing about it.  Start encouraging others to see the situation and dismal future of education in Morgan County without adequate funding.  We are not "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo".  Not yet.

The Morgan County I knew and loved is gone.

Thanks to the natives.

"For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it."  Ecclesiastes 7:12

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