Performance provides excellent example of importance of arts

Posted: Monday, February 09, 2004

Wow! Thank you for the memories!

Nikiski High School recently spent two weekends putting on one of the best musicals I have seen. Living up to their reputation for outstanding acting, music and dancing, the cast and crew, director, choreographer, costume designers and the many hands that went into the production of this incredible play are to be commended for going above and beyond yet once again.

It was truly a fabulous show and we are so incredibly blessed to have such amazing talent in our community.

The fact that it was written and directed by teachers at Nikiski High shows how lucky we are to have such talented staff in our schools.

Kudos aside, does this community realize how the arts (music, dance and drama) touched every member of the audience, as well as the students in the show? I'm talking about a play based on a true story, set in a time of our history when families were being torn apart having to send their sons and daughters off to war. What a fabulous way to make history relevant to our children.

My 6-year-old is now talking about the "USO" and what a good job they did making the soldiers happy. My 3-year-old daughter wants to learn to tap dance. And believe it or not, my 14-year-old son thought the music was "cool."

So, to Joe Rizzo and Phil Morin, thank you for delivering such a wonderful, powerful and pertinent show. To the school board members and administration who may have been attending one of those nights, can you see how important a tool the arts are?

We all got a glimpse of how life was like in 1940. Many in the audience were shedding tears remembering their own lives during that time and what kind of effect going to war had on them personally. Many others in the audience now have sons and daughters in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and could relate to every emotion in this play. Our youngest children are abuzz with excitement about the dance and music of that era. How excited both the youngest and oldest members of the audience were to see that train?

And what about the selfless act of compassion the community of North Platt, Neb., showed by opening the canteen to every soldier who came through their town. It was a refreshing example of how a community can pull together to make a difference.

To the school board members and administrators who may not have been able to see the play, please get your hands on a copy of the video and watch it. The arts are an ironclad, proven way to deliver curriculum and to create meaning in the lives of every member in our community, most especially our students. It is because of the arts we continue to have heart, spirit and soul in our lives.

Our students are more than "units" that must spit out facts for prefab tests. Give them the gift of the arts and they will soar. It's an investment that we cannot afford to shortchange. We, as a community, could, if we chose, pull together to keep the arts alive in our schools.

Once again, many thanks to Nikiski High School for continuing to make the arts an important part of education. Much continued applause for a job well done. I, for one, cannot wait till the next performance! Thanks for the memories!

Mary Thompson, Kenai

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