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Letter: Art can make all the difference in school

To the Editor:

National Arts In Education Week is Sept. 11-17, and this is a special time to celebrate and remember how important it is to have the arts included in a well-rounded education for students of all ages.

Both my parents were raised in Manhattan, and I spent many holidays of my childhood in New York City visiting family. My dad took my mother to a Broadway play, before they headed out on their honeymoon in 1959. Throughout my childhood, we attended plays, concerts, museum exhibits and as many arts events as possible. My sisters and I participated in competitive marching bands, which my parents and grandparents were eager to attend.

However, it was in college that theater made the biggest impact on me. Dr. Patricia Sankus was the theater professor and director at Stonehill College, where I received my bachelor’s in education. Along with the many joys of attending college, there were also significant sorrows. I had experienced a number of significant deaths in a very short period of time. Although many schools are known for their annual spring musicals with very large cast, Sankus was directing very intimate plays with serious topics. I needed those particular shows. I needed a way to experience the range of emotions I experience during these college years, and the theater was where I found that much needed release and freedom.

Although I left the formal classroom to pursue interests in the theater, I have never left teaching. Both are deeply embedded in my heart and soul. I am grateful that we now have National Arts in Education, and I thank all who made that possible. I would love to hear from people of all ages about when any aspect of the arts has been significantly important to them.

For me, I never dreamed I would become a professional stagehand, stage manager and hold various other entertainment industry jobs throughout my career of over twenty-five years. It all began with artist roots and opportunities!

Marie G. Cooney

St. Paul

Marie Cooney, playwright and storyteller, is an International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 13 stagehand.