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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Visual Performing Arts budget cuts from the student perspective

Students+share+their+opinions+about+the+possible+cuts+in+the+Visual+Performing+Arts+department.
Designed by Noah Brown
Students share their opinions about the possible cuts in the Visual Performing Arts department.

Lately, one of the biggest topics of discussion for the school committee has been the proposed budget cuts happening in the Westford Public School system (WPS), with significant reductions in the Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) section at WA. Based on the school committee’s latest budget plan, there will be a reduction in 1.4 FTE (full time equivalent) VPA teachers, cutting seven total classes if the Proposition 2 1/2 Override does not pass. It would also reduce Orchestra, Band and Choir ensembles in the music department, as well as completely eliminating the photography and ceramics classes at WA.

For students and parents involved in the VPA, one of the biggest concerns about the reduction from full-time to part-time teaching has been the possibility of higher turnover rates in the teachers that cannot afford to only work part-time.

Junior Isabella Hesse, the President of the Orchestra Board and a member of the WA Performing Arts Council, shares her experience with these turnover rates. Hesse and other Orchestra members have had many different Orchestra teachers over the course of their high school careers and have seen the effects this has on students’ ability to learn.

“High turnover rates discourage students from taking art classes. […] One of the most important things in the arts is the continuity of having the same teacher for years through building a connection,” Hesse said. “I have talked to multiple people and that is the reason they quit Orchestra.”

When considering what to cut at WA, the school committee and administration have looked at the amount of student enrollment within specific classes. When looking at the Visual and Performing Arts, these classes have seen some of the lowest enrollment, resulting in these department cuts.

According to Hesse, cuts on the Visual and Performing Arts may have a lasting effect on students in these classes who have built a passion for the arts.

“The Orchestra has helped me so much in so many parts of my life. If you take that away or if you reduce the quality of that [class], it is going to reduce the quality of every other aspect of my school career,” Hesse said.

Students from the music department that will be affected have been making their voices heard at school committee meetings. School committee meetings have been used as a chance to speak up, not just by the students in performing arts, but also by parents.

Senior Jefferey LaFlamme, a member of the VPA who serves as Tri-M president and band board president, has expressed his thoughts on the cuts at these meetings.

“It is very hard to not go numbers based […] but I would like to see more creative options than just cutting teachers salaries because the student experience is what matters,” LaFlamme said.

Given WA’s reputation for its music and theater departments, students have expressed concern that these cuts will risk lowering these standards.

“Westford Academy, specifically, is very renowned in our arts program […] but with these cuts, it has the potential for negative word to spread […] and people won’t view us as good anymore” LaFlamme said.

Senior Aamir Kapasi is the president of Westford Academy Theatre Arts and a member of the Westford Academy Performing Arts Council. Kapasi and other members of the Visual Performing Arts Council spoke to Principal Twomey and Superintendent Dr. Christopher Chew about the budget cuts.

“We recognize that WA needs to have its cuts, so it’s a difficult truth and we very much sympathize for the people in the school board because they have a very difficult task,” Kapasi said. “But it’s going to become a difficult situation for the students to be in as well.”

Moving into the future of the Westford Public Schools and Visual Performing Arts at WA , LaFlamme calls on students to keep showing up and caring about their classes at WA. 

“Show up, be informed and leave your mark,” LaFlamme said.

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About the Contributor
Noah Brown, Social Media & Graphic Design Editor
Hello! My name is Noah Brown and I am a senior as well as one of the two current Social Media & Graphic Design Editor for the Ghostwriter. I love to ski, bike, listen to music, and work with the peers around me. This is my second year with the Ghostwriter but I am very excited to be a part of this team of wonderful people!

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