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All Work and No Play – Diversifying Your High School Life

All Work and No PlayEveryone’s heard the adage “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” right? The saying is also true for your class schedule. While it’s commendable to want to fill your schedule with honors classes, dual credit classes and advance placement classes;  there is also something to be said for pursuing a passion or learning a new skill. Having a diversion during the school day does a mind good. It gives you a chance to do something you enjoy:  paint, sing, act, write, etc.

Most high schools offer arts classes such as band, choir and drama. Taking one class period off from required classes allows you to de-stress and do something you love.  Studies show that learning music activates the portion of the brain responsible for math, a little added bonus. Participation in high school theater also provides similar benefits as instrumental music.

  • S. Department of Education data show that students who were consistently involved with instrumental music during middle and high school showed “significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.”
  • According to a 2005 College Board study, students who completed a music appreciation class scored on average 65 points higher on the verbal portion of the SAT and 34 points higher on math portion of the SAT than students without any arts education and participation.
  • A 2005 Harris Poll reported that 93% of the American public believes that the arts, including theatre, are vital to a well-rounded education.

High school journalism classes are a good way for you to write, take photos, design pages and create the school yearbook or newspaper. Working on your school’s publication shows you can meet deadlines, think critically and work as a team. There is also the potential to hone your leadership skills by holding editorial positons such as photo editor, business manager or editor-in-chief.

  • Two academic studies (1987 Journalism Education Association and 2008 Newspaper Association of America) show that student journalists earn better high school grades and perform better on college entrance exams. They also score higher in college in grammar and composition course than students without journalism education.
  • On the average, students who were members of a high school journalism staff scored higher on the ACT COMP optional section than students who were not involved with journalism.

So, when you’re choosing next year’s classes this spring, be sure to include something that gives you a valuable diversion. Arts and journalism classes provide academic benefits while giving you a creative outlet.



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Kelly Short is a 20-year advocate of public education and has been happily teaching journalism and photography to high school student journalists. She, also, advised numerous award winning student publications during her career.

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