Changing of the Guard

When I think about “parent involvement,” during my kids’ years in Chatham County Schools, three things come to mind as most influential.

  1. 4th Grade trip to Outer Banks—Three days traveling with 100 students, their parents and teachers! With Mattie Smith’s superb organizational skills, it was a delight to watch a teacher’s fine mix of discipline and fun. And it was the first time I got to know a group of parents I would work closely with for the next 10 years.
  2. Band Boosters—Participating in a well-developed parent organization whose work was absolutely essential for the success of the program—raising serious money and putting in serious hours. Being welcomed as a team member by the community that is marching band.

    Byways, Highways & Skyways


    NHS All-Superior Pit Crew

  3. Establishing and working with NHSAEF—Recognizing that the entire arts education program needed the kind of support Band Boosters provided the instrumental music program. Learning that a group of dedicated parents and community members lending a hand, promoting, and advocating for students, faculty, the program, the school, and the arts could have a tremendous impact on perception, recognition, funding and opportunities.


    2010 NHSAEF Scholarship Recipients

Why Should You Get Involved?

  1. First and foremost, to support this tremendous faculty. Ten years ago Northwood was the only NC school the Kennedy Center recognized with their Creative Ticket for Excellence for its comprehensive arts education program. Today those junior faculty members have remained, and grown to lead this award-winning program. NHS is one of only about 45% of the US high schools with a theatre arts program and one of only about 12% of US high schools with a dance program.* This faculty was a stable force for our children during an era when other parts of Northwood did not have great continuity from year to year. They have modeled life-long learning—earning advanced degrees, board certification, pursuing professional development activities, developing facility on additional instruments, and auditioning for new dance companies. They and their students have earned statewide and national recognition, received grants to expand opportunities, and built a tradition of excellence to which new students aspire each year.
  2. Your efforts, your presence, your participation validates the importance of arts education studies for all  students.
  3. You maintain and increase funding and program stability by promoting NorthwoodArts to the community, the school board, the county commissioners and our state legislators.
  4. You meet super students and make life-long friendships with families who work alongside you.
  5. Your efforts provide much needed funds for annual college scholarships and teacher grants.

What Kinds of Things Does NHSAEF Do?

  1. Officers direct the business of the organization.
  2. Committee members work on projects in particular areas: Hospitality, Programs, Membership, Publicity, Fundraising.
  3. Program activities have included: Meet the Principal/Superintendent nights, Arts Integration Workshops & Art 21 Video Sessions for National Arts & Humanities Month, a student trip to Raleigh to meet with legislators on Arts Advocacy Day, PASPort Lecture/Demos with Stanley Baird, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Neenna Freelon, and Leslie Burwell.  Residencies with Dr. John Brown from Duke University.
  4. Fundraisers have included: Concerts & Auctions, Fashion shows, Dinner theatre, Zumba classes, yard sales, a holiday bazaar, a recycling collection drive, and the sale of concessions at NHS arts events.

If you’re lucky, you learn as much while your kids are in high school as they do—different lessons, but equally important. So that when graduation comes, you too will miss students, families, teachers, the rhythm of the school calendar, and truly understand that word we hear so often this time of year—bittersweet.

NHS and the Arts Ed Foundation need you. Contact arts department chair Leslie Burwell or NHSAEF Faculty Liaison Lori Major Carlin to volunteer for the coming year.

* Parsad, B., & Spiegelman, M. (9012). Arts education in public elementary and secondary schools: 1999-2000 and 2009-10 (NCES 2012-014). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U. S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.


Summer Updates

A few updates from the end of the school year at Northwood, some summer arts opportunities,  and a new report I want to recommend to you over the summer…

First, congratulations to senior Andrew Southerland, Northwood’s recipient of the John Phillip Sousa Award. Created in 1955, the award honors the top student in a high-school band and recognizes superior musicianship and outstanding dedication. It was developed with the cooperation of Helen Sousa Albert and Priscilla Sousa, daughters of the famous composer and bandmaster. Southerland played Euphonium in both the NHS Marching Band and the NHS Concert Band.  He was a featured soloist in last year’s marching band program, Psychoses, as well as a student conductor at the Concert for Memorial Day. Southerland will continue his music studies this fall at Western Carolina University. Both the Northwood band director, Eugene Cottrell, and the principal, Chris Blice, received this award upon graduating from their respective high schools.

Induction ceremonies for new Northwood chapter members of the National Art Honor Society took place this year at the Spring Art Show on May 30. Congratulations to new NAHS members Aubrye Carr, Josy Christian, Kapreshia Covington, Bailey Friedman, Ashley Gardner, Chelsea Gardner, Silvan Goddin, Charlotte Harrison, Emily Kerscher, Michelle Oliver, Claire Pauley, and Jan Reinberg,

Check out the new Photo Albums at the NHSAEF website. We’ve posted pictures from the recent Drama Camp for Chatham middle school students. Students worked for a week with Dr. Carlin and members of the Acting Ensemble to prepare skits and a short play for family and friends on Friday June 19.

This year I began serving as co-chair (along with Kathie Russell ) of ChathamArts’ Arts in Education Committee. This group is responsible for promoting and organizing the residency programs in Chatham County Schools each year. We’re looking forward to 9 residencies in the coming year! This summer ChathamArts kicks off their first series of summer camps and classes. They are working with Briar Chapel to offer several art camps for your child, giving him/her an opportunity to experience music, painting and drama. It’s not too late to register, so check out their camp info here:

Take a few minutes to read Increasing Arts Demand Through Better Arts Learning. This June 2009 Wallace Foundation “Knowledge in Brief” summarizes new research on how some cities are working to reverse a decades-long decline in arts education in ways that could also lift demand for the arts overall.

As many of you know Northwood is currently undergoing a major renovation effort. When completed this fall, the Arts Education Department will be consolidated in a new, expanded arts wing. NHSAEF is an all-volunteer organization working to promote and enhance NHS arts education. Join us and share you time, talents, and ideas as we work to assist faculty, provide opportunities for students, and promote involvement and collaboration with the community!