In many schools, when funding is low, the art program is the first to be cut. Lack of art in schools limits the opportunities of students and research has shown that students who have access to art classes are more likely to do well on standardized tests. Waterford School, however, is lucky in the quality and size of the art program. With a variety of classes, the art program has Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Concascia, both full time art teachers, and Ms. Bono, who teaches part time.
With 17 art classes listed in the 2019-2020 Program of Studies, there are many types of art for students to participate in, along with several different skill levels. Classes offered range from painting, drawing, and illustration to sculpture, digital art, and even bookmaking. Exploratory Art: Printmaking/Collage and Alternative Sketchbooks were newly created classes introduced this year. The Elements of Art and Principles of Design are taught throughout all of the classes offered and serve as the framework for all projects. Furthermore, students enjoy taking art classes. Sophomore Kylie Hopkins, currently taking Alternative Sketchbooks, explained that “art is a good stress release from the rest of my classes.”
The art program offers three different introductory courses that all students must begin with. After taking one or more of introductory level classes, students have the option to take level II, level III and level IV classes. As the levels progress, students have more freedom to guide their own projects. Classes such as Illustration, The Art of Animation, and a few Digital Art classes are offered on top of the traditional art electives.
Besides the plethora of classes they offer, the art teachers also run the National Art Honor Society at Waterford High School. The Art Honor Society runs paint night fundraisers and also put together a gallery space in the main lobby of the school in order to display work throughout the year. The Art Honor Society also has an annual art show that provides an opportunity for students to display their art.
Perhaps the biggest opportunity for art students is the chance at having their art hung at the Hygienic Galleries in New London. Each year, Waterford and New London High Schools have an art show at the gallery in order to showcase and potentially sell their art. This year, the art show will run from January 10 to January 19 at the Hygienic Galleries. An opening reception for the exhibit will occur on January 10 from 5:30 to 8:30.
Art in Waterford makes up a very small part of the budget. In 2019-2020 Budget, the art instructional services for K-12 was proposed to cost $562,711, with Waterford High School requesting $15,459 for supplies. The overall budget for Waterford Public Schools is $49,337,064, meaning that the art budget is just 1% of the overall budget. For school districts that struggle with funding, art programs are slashed or even cut completely. One such example is Montville, which was forced to reduce their school budget and let go of a part-time art teacher. Furthermore, although Groton schools have nearly twice as many students as Waterford Public Schools, they have a similar art budget both in terms of teachers and supplies.