First Stage Students Advocate for Arts Education in Madison

3:09 PM
First Stage students Garrett Kim and Maya George headed to the state capitol on March 14 to meet with elected officials to discuss the importance of arts education in schools today.  Mr. Kim and Ms. George were selected by First Stage to participate in Arts Day 2012.  Arts Day is an opportunity for representatives from the arts, education, and business sectors to meet with Wisconsin’s political leadership about the importance of arts education in our state.

Ms. George, a junior at Rufus King High School, participated in Arts Day for the second time this year.  She shared that participating in First Stage since she was 6 years old has helped her develop self-confidence, public speaking skills, and the ability to set goals.  George says, “
I began taking classes at First Stage in 1999 and have been interning and learning there ever since.  Being involved with First Stage taught me how to come up with my own ideas and think for myself. I can easily set goals - for a fictional character or myself - because of my experiences at First Stage. The acting classes taught me how to be an actor, but taught me more about how to be a good person. First Stage never neglected to pass on knowledge about theater and always provided me with the experiences that would enrich my life forever.”

Mr. Kim, a senior at Arrowhead High School, is President of the Student Senate, member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Club.  Kim stressed the importance of the arts in shaping who he is today. "I first fell in love with theatre and performing six years ago, and since then, it has become an integral part in shaping who I am today. The lessons I've learned in rehearsal translate seamlessly into my everyday life. I've gained the confidence to expand my creative horizons. Theatre is such an important, engaging tool to teach kids lessons that can't be learned in school. First Stage does a phenomenal job at reaching out to kids, helping them reach their full potential and succeed. Nobody teaches "life skills through stage skills" better than First Stage!”

First Stage students talked first with Representative Leon Young’s staff. Representative Young is an alumnus of Rufus King High School and his district is home to First Stage and the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.  Rep. Young’s aide indicated he always been a supporter of the arts and looks forward to touring the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center in the near future.  Students also sat down with Representative Kelda Roys’ staff who shared that Rep. Roys has a theater background herself and is supportive of the arts in education today.  Students also had the opportunity to share their story with staff members in the offices of Representative Tamara Grigsby and Representative Jason Fields.

In conversations with Representatives, Mr. Kim and Ms. George articulated the arts’ unique and critical role in the future of our state’s economy.  According to George, “Science, technology, engineering and math are wonderful tools that can help people reach their goals, but to come up with those goals requires imagination, it requires the arts. We never would have gotten to the moon if someone hadn’t imagined it in the first place. Imagination pushed someone to think, ‘What if we could….’  Life-changing ideas sprout from imagination and creativity.  Intensifying the imagination is what the arts are all about.”

Attending Arts Day was a valuable experience for Mr. Kim and Ms. George.  According to Mr. Kim, “It was great to see the support and enthusiasm that the people we talked with had for the arts. Thankfully, we live in a state where our legislators care about arts education.” 

Ms. George plans to intern at First Stage Theater Academy again this summer and is considering studying art therapy or chemistry in the future.  Mr. Kim plans to study theater in the fall at a university to be determined.  Many thanks to these students for sharing their stories and representing First Stage with a tremendous amount of passion and poise.

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