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Marcy Graybill
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Help a young person achieve their dream!  
Why I Transferred to an Art School
Ellie Piersol, Division 2, 12th grade

I’ve had many amazing experiences, but the one that comes to mind as the best and most worthwhile learning experience was transferring from my regular school to a focus program for Arts and Humanities.

Arts and Humanities was created in 1998 to do things differently in the Lincoln community. They they wanted to address the challenge, “of developing a high school experience that was built on the shared interests of staff and students, an experience that was embedded in the community, and an experience that went beyond the four walls of the classroom and the boundaries of the school campus,” (Arts and Humanities LPS page). A&H focuses on, as the title alludes to, the arts and humanities. There are big differences between regular LPS schools and Arts such as; open views and ideas about current, real world events, off campus opportunities, one-on-one interactions between students and teachers, and a smaller, more close-knit student community. Arts has been viewed as an alternative school because of these further left ideas and incorporating politics and art actively in class, but it’s the perfect habitat for kids who like the idea of focused classes and being able to experience things in a hands-on way. Instead of learning exclusively about art theory, we put the ideas on canvas as part of the class. We don’t just learn different film techniques and how they are used, we look at a film and dissect scene by scene how the director used various methods to make you feel something when you watch. 

There are solid reasons why I wanted - and needed - to transfer to Arts. I was a sophmore in a huge sports-oriented high school that didn’t care much about art, writing, history or social issues. I learned how to sleep sitting up in class. I was stuck in a lifeless rut. I went home, took a nap, did math homework I could hardly understand, ate dinner, and went to bed. Instead of learning why the Nazis marched into Normandy or what actually went down during the Crusades, we learned dates and overviews about the stories inside a textbook. In English I read classic novels that nobody cared whether I understood or not and talked more about shallow undertones and details than about gaining any true understanding of Lord of the Flies. It was desperately time for change. I wrote my application, carefully choosing each word to make myself sound as extraordinary as possible. I included pictures of the art I had done and a list of the volunteer work I was doing. I was nervous though. I didn’t think they’d admit me because I wasn’t enough of an artist or I hadn’t done enough. I didn’t know if I would be able to accomplish my artistic goals while I was there. I thought that my peers wouldn’t take me seriously as an artist.

I was accepted.

The first week we went on our first field trip; we traveled downtown to see the movie Boyhood. When I think of Arts, that’s the first memory I always go back to. My friends and I got lost on all the one way streets and were singing as loudly as possible to bad radio music. At my regular school we didn’t go on field trips to the capitol building to hear senators speak or go see foreign indie movies downtown or organize protests or talk about real world events or interview movie directors or members of the ACLU. Arts was different. Arts was exactly what I needed. We actually learned about the things I wanted to learn about, and even things I had no clue I should be interested in. I don’t think I would ever have learned about the Civil Rights movement or feminism or what’s going on in the Middle East or how TV has changed how we view politics or what images can do to our subconscious fight or flight instinct without Arts. 

The biggest thing that I learned, though, was how to create my own path. I took a Books and Film class as a junior, where we read the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and watched the Tim Burton version of the film, Alice in Wonderland. In the film, Alice goes into Wonderland for the second time since she was a child, and she’s thrown into a huge adventure that she never expected or really wanted to go on. “From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole I've been told where I must go and who I must be. I've been shrunk, stretched, scratched, and stuffed into a teapot. I've been accused of being Alice and of not being Alice but this is my dream. I'll decide where it goes from here.” (Alice in Wonderland, 2010) Going to regular public school made me feel like a cog in a perfectly oiled machine. Sure I had a place and a purpose, but it felt like I was just going through the motions like everyone else. I wasn’t an individual. I was there to make somebody else’s clock move. 

Arts taught me otherwise. I was allowed to be an individual, not compelled to cater to anyone else’s idea of how I should act. I wasn’t just encouraged to use my voice, but taught how to use it. Anxieties were stripped away in front of an audience like me because I didn’t have anything to be afraid of anymore. They were there to benefit me, not just themselves. Arts cares. Going into high school is kind of like being thrown into a 4-year free trial run of the real world. But this trial run has some limitations. You have to follow this path laid out for you exactly to get into college and you can’t step away, because if you do you’ll mess up the works. Arts taught me to create my own path. It doesn’t matter what anyone else lays out for me to do, because I am the perfect person to create my path. 

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