By Maya Lannen, guest writer
The matte finish of a blank canvas comes to life in her hands. Shiny acrylic streaks follow her brush, in delicate movements built by years of practice. She makes it look easy – a spot of blue here, a touch of red there, as though the composition of colors was her second nature. Slowly and surely, she unfolds the scene before her.
“I started drawing when I was really young,” Sadie Vorva remembered fondly. When asked how her interest in art developed, she replied. “It’s been sort of an all-time thing. It was just sort of there when I was there.”
True callings are hard to come by. According to Liz Freedman of Pennsylvania State University, studies have shown that up to 50% of high school students will enter college with an undecided major, indicating that teenagers don’t often have clear plans for the future. But unlike many students, this artist has already found her path. In her first trimester at Loy Norrix, freshman Sadie Vorva pursues a lifelong love of art through painting, music and poetry.
For many high schoolers, art is nothing more than an assignment. Students draw self portraits in the art class Basic Design, write poems in English classes or sing reluctantly in the school choir. But for Sadie Vorva, this interest runs much deeper than school responsibility. Vorva has been interested in art for as long as she can remember, and throughout middle and high school, she has devoted herself to many different areas of artistic expression.
Talent and dedication aside, Vorva has the look of an artist. Her shock of bushy hair frames a gentle face. Vorva’s pierced septum shows off her creative spirit. Wide-eyed and dressed in denim, she looks tough and speaks with soft confidence.
“I’m really involved in art,” Vorva said, and she has the resumé to prove it.
Aside from the visual arts of drawing and painting, she plays the French horn and the electric violin and loves writing poetry. Vorva is involved in many arts programs but says her favorites are the school band and her Advanced Art Portfolio class because she likes the challenge.
“It’s really testing me with my art skills,” Vorva said.
She explained that once she completes this class, she plans on taking AP Art and hopes to pursue her talents into college and beyond.
With the many artistic opportunities available to her at Loy Norrix, Vorva is flourishing. In middle school, things weren’t always this easy. Like many middle schoolers, she faced her share of drama and harassment at the hands of her peers at the Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts.
“I got stuff for being bisexual and dying my hair many colors,” said Vorva.
At Loy Norrix, however, the larger and more accepting community has been a welcome change.
“It was actually a lot better. I made a bunch of friends, I’m in a great relationship right now. I’m enjoying all of my classes, and so far most of my teachers enjoy me,” Vorva said.
Succeeding in her classes and extracurriculars, Vorva is the definition of a well-rounded student and a prime example of the importance of arts education. The provision of school resources to arts programs is a hotly debated topic in the United States’ political field. While many advocate for the cutting of arts programs to increase funding in other areas, the undeniable importance of the arts gives many educators pause. According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), the arts are an important factor in student success.
“Students who participate in arts learning experiences often improve their achievement in other realms of learning and life,” said Sandra Ruppert of the NASAA. These improvements are not only visible in terms of social and personal development, but are reflected in academics and test scores. In an informational publication titled “Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement,” Ruppert reported that, “High school students who take arts classes have higher math and verbal SAT scores than students who take no arts classes.”
The evidence makes it clear that artistic expression should be encouraged as a part of a successful education.
Vorva is no stranger to the power of creative expression, and she believes that art should not be undervalued. In addition to improving academic performance, she feels that art has an important influence on the way we see the world.
“It can change your opinion,” Vorva said. “Art, in my opinion, is important to society because it helps you learn new things about the society you’re in.”
This opportunity for new perspectives is what attracts Vorva to the arts. As she continues high school and prepares for college and an arts-based career, her passion is unwavering. After all, as Vorva explained, art has a lot to offer to those patient enough to look.
“It can give you more creativity,” she said, “And open up the world to you.”