Turn a setback into an opportunity

Times are tough for small-town schools. Enrollment is declining, and every year it seems the state legislature finds a new way to shirk its responsibility to fund schools that will keep Kansas competitive with other states and the rest of the world. Budget cuts are an unfortunate part of this reality. One such cut that has been made this year is Marion High School’s spring play. Director Janet Killough attended Monday’s school board meeting, believing a proposal to restore funding to the play was on the agenda, but it was not.

There is no good time to lose student programs, but this year seems an especially poor year to lose the spring play. Anyone who attended the fall musical production of “Footloose” could see for themselves how many students are interested in performing and how talented many of those students are. In fact, this year’s musical set a record for tickets sold. With that in mind, helping stage a play would be the perfect way for the community to get involved with the kids, contributing time, talents, and maybe even a little money to do something special.

There are many plays in the public domain, which can be staged without paying royalties — for example, all of William Shakespeare’s plays. Marion has many residents who know how to work with their hands, and a community-minded craftsman could help design and build sets. I am far from handy with tools, but I would be happy to design posters and programs.

The school has a beautiful performing arts center, which I don’t think gets used enough anyway. But even if scheduling didn’t work out to use the performing arts center, we also have the Marion Community Center ballroom as a high-quality venue. It could even be used for a different type of performance, maybe dinner theater or dessert theater, which wouldn’t work well in the performing arts center.

Studies show that students involved in performing arts do better in other school subjects, too. But that isn’t the reason we should encourage children who are interested from performing. Regardless of whether the arts make better mathematicians, scientists, and engineers, the performing arts have their own intrinsic value. Children who enjoy getting up in front of people to put on a show should have that opportunity for its own sake. We, as a community, can give them the opportunity.

This budget cut is a setback, but it is also a chance for people who care to get involved with the youth of our community, and to do something for them. Anyone who is interested in volunteering their time and talents can e-mail me at adam@marionrecord.com or call (620) 382-2165.

— ADAM STEWART

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