Arts make schools more wholesome

To the editor:

Wasn’t Winter Carnival a wonderful showcase for the spirit and talents of the village of Saranac Lake? I want to take a moment to support the wonderful music and arts programs in our schools, many of which were highlighted during Winter Carnival.

My fourth-grader at St. Bernard’s had the privilege of watching his talented music teacher, George Cordes, sing at the Rotary Show. To have someone with Mr. Cordes’ impressive resume teach in our small school is an experience that will touch the students’ lives in many ways yet to be realized. Watching the Saranac Lake High School Men’s and Women’s Ensembles sing under the enthusiastic and skillful direction of Drew Benware and the Jazz Band under the direction of Keith Kogut is a source of great pride, not only for the parents of these young men and women but for the whole town.

Ours is not a traditional musical family, but my children have been introduced to music through opportunities inside and outside of school. I never would have known that music would become such an integral part of their education without the emphasis that was placed on the arts during their school years. As our school district is forced to consider where the budget money will go in the next few years, I don’t envy the choices that will need to be made, but I hope the school board will do all it can to continue the arts as an integral part of our children’s education. We need to make the board aware that, as a community, we value the arts in education, and we must do what we can to help the school find ways to fund this education.

The children of our town must go on to compete with others who have grown up in larger cities and towns. The young men and women of our town have succeeded in the past and hopefully will continue to do so in the future. Saranac Lake, with its wonderful tradition of student athletics, knows that there are lessons that cannot always be learned in the classroom. Just as our student athletes do not always go on to become professional athletes, the children involved in the music and arts programs may not go on to become professional musicians and artists, but the confidence and discipline learned through these practices and performances are so valuable in all their future endeavors.

As a physician and a business person in the community, I know that recruiting professionals to the area cannot be done without the promise of good schools and an exceptional education. My husband and I chose to raise our children here because they not only benefit from the wonderful teachers in our schools but they also benefit from lessons learned on the field, the stage and in the studio. There are no easy solutions, but I hope that the diverse opportunities our children are afforded here can continue. I know that it is vital to our children’s and our town’s future that they do so.


Patricia K. Monroe

Saranac Lake