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Woburn Schools Look to Increase Arts/Muisic Programs

Mar 07, 2019 08:08AM ● By Michelle Visco

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At the Woburn School Committee meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27 principals of the Woburn Memorial High School, Kennedy Middle School, Daniel L. Joyce Middle School, and Clyde Reeve's Elementary School all agreed on the importance of arts and music to their students. They spoke on the importance of extracurricular activities focusing on the art and music programs.

The principal of the Kennedy Middle School, Carl Nelson stated that they don't have a lot of extracurricular activities in place at the Kennedy Middle School.  He mentioned that they have band, chorus, intramurals, robotics, and a theater program, but he wants there to be more. He said that recently there was a survey that went out to staff/parents asking them what they would be interested in seeing. He reported that “we just feel we need to offer the students more and we don’t have a lot in place right now.”

Dr. John Wells, School Committee member, noted to Principal Nelson that the feedback from parents was that they don’t like the differences in the two middle schools. For example, Dr. Wells mentioned that it sounded like some extracurricular activities would be at one school and not at another. 

Seventh grader at the Kennedy Middle School, Sylvia Keating, spoke about the importance of band, and her concerns that there may be cuts to the middle school band at the SC meeting a few weeks ago. She echoed Dr. Wells statement by stating that “As it is, the offerings of band are not equal at both Middle Schools. The Joyce has the band teacher for three days, while the Kennedy only has our band teacher for two days. Middle School Students at the Joyce are able to take band for a grade, while it is an activity at the Kennedy.”

Principal Nelson declared that the survey will be helpful and stated that “If we have 50 kids who are interested in an art class and the Joyce has zero it doesn’t make sense to offer it at the Joyce or offer it at the Kennedy and not the Joyce and so on.” 

Nelson assured the committee that these activities will all be offered. The principal of Woburn Memorial High School, Jessica Callanan, indicated that someone from the High School, Middle School and maybe Elementary are working on devising an action plan around extracurricular offerings.

Ellen Crowley, School Committee member, was asked about the cost for extracurricular activities at the Middle School to which Principal Nelson answered that there is not a huge cost associated with it. If it wasn’t affordable for parents the school would pay for it claimed Principal Nelson.  

There will be more art classes available for the High School as there will be a part-time drama teacher added.  Principal Callanan reported that they are trying to make sure they are offering in their district at least what is equitable in other surrounding districts in terms of access to the arts. Crowley conveyed that there will be ten new drama courses.

At the Clyde Reeves Elementary School, Principal Bobbie Finocchio confirmed that a high priority for them is to increase specials, in particular arts and music. She wants students to have more access to the arts. 

Right now, in elementary schools, students have art or music once every two weeks for 40 minutes and it is just not enough. Keating echoed these thoughts in her speech by expressing that when she was in elementary school they got less than 20 music classes a year. Other districts have art and music every week. Principal Finocchio declared that it is really important to give children more access to the arts.

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