Arts Programs Are Alive and Well
Marin IJ 12/2/04
Sandy Peterson (A San Marin High School Parent)
I WANT TO SET the record straight regarding
the arts programs at "traditional" high
the Nov. 14 article in the IJ promoted the Marin School of the Arts,
it is important that parents of prospective high school students
know that music, drama and visual arts also thrive at Redwood, Tam,
Drake, San Rafael, Terra Linda and San Marin high schools.
arts are not competitive sports with winners and also-rans. Most
high school teachers support each others' programs and applaud each
others' accomplishments. Eighth-grade parents should look at the
actual records of the other high schools and make informed decisions
for their students.
a parent of three San Marin music students, I can unequivocally state
that the music program offered by Emily Gates at San Marin is the
one of the best available.
Mrs. Gates is not a self-promoter, she rarely advertises her groups'
successes. As a musician and a teacher, she wants all kids to have
a chance to make music. If you ask Mrs. Gates to name a star performer
she won't have one -- she sees all her kids as stars. The "budding
artists" who have studied music at San Marin High School think
that San Marin is the original "school of the arts"!
more than 13 years, San Marin Musical Theater has annually produced
two complete musical productions, frequently to sold-out audiences.
Students sell tickets to cover production costs, also earning money
for the annual spring music tours. This fall, Mrs. Gates and a San Marin
alum/professional musical theater actor, Kevin Kiler, directed "Pajama
music classroom swarms with kids until late in the evening, almost
every day of the week. San Marin's Musical Theater Workshop rehearses
on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and Sunday afternoons. San Marin
Show Choir rehearses on Wednesday evenings from 5:15 to 7. Jazz combo
rehearses after school on Mondays, and, this year, Mrs. Gates meets
during lunch with the strings group and the men's chorus.
Amazingly, there is no fee assessed
to be in any San Marin
music group. The highly acclaimed vocal and instrumental
performers have been invited to festivals around the world. Recent
tours include Australia, Vancouver, Banff, the State Capitol rotunda,
and three separate performances at Carnegie Hall. This year's jazz
groups will be part of the World Project's Tour during spring break
in New Orleans.
volunteer in the music department not because it is required of them,
but because they love seeing their students so excited about music.
sense of teamwork in all of Emily Gates' classes is legendary in
our community. She is a gifted educator and always encourages her
students to bring out the best in each other; "divas" and "stars" are
last year's spring concert, a highlight of the performance was the "Star-spangled
Banner," where the soloists were two special education students
who were backed up by the entire concert choir.
music transcends language, ESL students are welcomed and often put
their skills to work teaching other students how to correctly pronounce
words in multicultural pieces. The "music kids" emulate
the compassion for others and the dedication to excellence they learn
from Mrs. Gates.
valedictorian/salutatorian at San Marin has been a member of the
music department at least five times in the past 10 years. San Marin's
music students have gone on to Yale,UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Davis,
Reed, Tufts, Stanford, the Claremont Colleges, Chapman, and other
students who don't major in music continue to perform in college,
and some have gone on to professional music careers. Jim Poulos,
a San Marin alum, currently can be seen in "Little Shop of Horrors" in
San Francisco. He also performed as Mark in "Rent" on Broadway.
San Marin's drama department has also won accolades, and puts on
fabulous performances in the student center at the high school. The
drama students recently presented "You Can't Take It With You."
of the art of the visual arts students are also wonderful and demonstrate
the depth of talent at this "traditional" high school.
obviously have great admiration for the students and faculty at San
Marin. Other parents can surely point with equal pride to accomplishments
at their local high schools. Students in San Marin are fortunate
to have so many great options available to them. Parents and teachers
should join together to applaud all our students' efforts, and to
appreciate the wonderful talents of all our "standout performers."
to all the educators who bring out the best in Marin County's talented
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