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Snubbed Again…. Fine Arts Students Vs. Athletes

Jeff Linamen

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Have you ever attended a football or basketball game where music was not present?

In a few hours, my school is throwing together an assembly to send off our girls basketball team to state competition. A great accomplishment, to be sure! In doing so, it was decided to honor our other successful winter sports teams… because to honor one and not the other would not be fair. Our students that recently competed in state speech competition will also be recognized. Notably absent: two students that represented our school by making the All-State Choir and a third student that auditioned and made the All-State Play which was performed for thousands of high school students at the annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival in January.

To honor one and not the other would not be fair.

Seriously? Are we supposed to believe that statement? The excuse being given is that sports (and speech) are part of the IHSA (Illinois High School Association) and music is sponsored by the IMEA (Illinois Music Educators Association), theatre is sponsored by the ITA (Illinois Theatre Association). All are recognized, if not sponsored, by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Apparently, IHSA is all that matters at our school.

I find it particularly interesting that the IHSA website (http://ihsa.org/default.aspx) header states: The IHSA governs the equitable participation in interscholastic athletics and activities that enrich the educational experience. Then scrolling down the page, one of the top stories is about a band director receiving a national award. I should note that there are no music related associations under the IHSA but by the Mission Statement and Beliefs (of the IHSA), all educational activities are important and deserve equal recognition.

Beliefs of the IHSA that I find particularly relevant are: 1) …each individual is important; 2) IHSA believes in respect, appreciation and acceptance of diversity; 3) …equality and fairness must always be safe-guarded; and 4) IHSA believes in the pursuit of excellence. (http://ihsa.org/AbouttheIHSA/MissionStatementBeliefs.aspx)

By our school’s definition, music and theatre, in which we offer academic classes– are somehow unimportant and do not fit those guidelines.

Does the student body know or care about the IHSA? When valuable class time is given up to hold an assembly to honor the best, is it equitable and fair to ignore students that have worked just as hard in their curricular and extra curricular areas of study as others being honored?

I say, NO! This is a travesty and is completely unfair and unequal.

Honor ALL outstanding achievement or honor none.

Is it no wonder that there is an ongoing battle between the importance of athletics and arts or scholastic achievement and recognition? This is not meant to just blast our school’s decision… this happens at schools across the country. Some students are athletes, some are musicians, some are leaders and some are brilliant scholastically. All students need to be applauded for their accomplishments.

The kicker is that in this case, the All State Choir students were asked to sing the national anthem at the assembly… but would not be acknowledged for their accomplishments.

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