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New Blog Post! The Value of the Arts During a Time of Crisis


by Guest Blog Writer, Emma Campbell, Interim Arts Department Chair and Dance Faculty

Here at Thornton Academy, we have continued to offer a plethora of both visual and performing arts classes for our students this year.  The arts have an undeniable presence on our campus: we see displays of carefully curated pieces throughout the halls, we hear songs floating out the doors of the Garland Auditorium, and we catch flashes of bodies in motion through the sunny, glass entry way of the Johnson Dance Studio.  This chaotic explosion of art that happens each and every day has been tucked away from public view, another casualty of learning in a COVID world.  Despite the less obvious presence of these moments, they continue to happen to the great comfort of our students.  We paint, we mourn, we sing, we laugh, we draw, we cry, we act, we scream, we dance: art is a way for our students to escape and to belong at the same time.  What other thing in this life allows us to both simultaneously lose and find ourselves?

The pandemic has been incredibly challenging for so many reasons, but I use this as a space to commend my colleagues who continue to bring joy each and every day to students.  Just hear what their students have to say:

  • “In my art class, I can focus on the art I am creating instead of all the things I don’t get to do right now.”

  • “Returning to indoor singing is something that I have been waiting for all year.  I don’t think people necessarily realize how much we have missed doing this.  I will never take this for granted in the future.”

  • “You can express your feelings and say things that you don’t feel comfortable verbalizing with your body in dance class.  I can process my emotions and feelings with my body before I have to say it out loud.”

  • “Art is calming for me and clears my head.  When I am spinning from all the changes day to day, I know I can sit down with my sketchbook and create something just for me to inspire me to go on with my day.”

  • “Where else do you get to be someone else and forget about all of the things in the day that are hard and focus on a character? Theater has been such a great part of my year.”

  • “Being a part of this positive arts community full of energy and life has been the best part of this school year by far.”

Art teachers know about operating in survival mode.  Many elective disciplines operate this way in a normal year, let alone during a pandemic.  But unlike many other schools, Thornton Academy has continued to prioritize the arts as a critical component of our students’ educational experience.  We know that students need this critical outlet to move through these dark times.  Our humanity is punctuated with great works of art that were born through chaos and crisis.  It is natural that these creative spaces would continue to bring comfort and positive energy to a students’ experience in school this year.  For any student considering joining the Visual and Performing Arts, I encourage you to think critically about your own educational path and the possibilities for you to share your voice and experience through art.  Doing this has changed my life in the most radical way possible.  We look forward to sharing more creative expressions that our students are working on in Semester Two, and will continue to deliver a premiere arts experience for all students despite the challenges we are facing.  We are artists, we are resilient, and we are here every day for you!

Hear more from Ms. Campbell at Thornton Academy’s next Virtual Open House for prospective students and their families. Join us on March 3rd at 7pm for this month's Virtual Open House, which will highlight our Visual & Performing Arts program. Thornton Academy arts are second to none in the state of Maine; our program prepares students for success as professional artists, musicians, actors, and dancers on a global stage.

Learn more and register at