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Works of Art: RIH Grows District Art Program

Enrollment in the enhanced program at the Ramapo and Indian Hills High Schools is up by 30 percent, district officials say.

Samples of student work from Ramapo and Indian Hills High Schools.
Samples of student work from Ramapo and Indian Hills High Schools.

Officials at the Ramapo Indian Hills High School district have been working on revamping the district’s art program for three years, and according to RIH’s Arts Supervisor Rich Burton, the work is paying off.

Three years ago, Burton said the district began refocusing its art program by switching from a curriculum of mostly art survey classes to medium-specific classes. Now, students – who are required to take five credits of either art or music – can delve into computer graphics design, painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, and advanced and AP art classes.

“We really wanted to evolve the art program in the district, and we made some drastic changes,” Burton said.

“The support we’ve gotten to do this has been tremendous. And the creativity level we’ve seen is so diverse, it’s really going well."

Since implementing the changes, Burton said the district has seen a 30 percent increase in art class enrollment, which he says is a product not only of the new class offerings, but also of an effort to enhance the overall school environment with student art.

“We want this to affect the entire school,” he said.

“Both schools have worked to increase the role that the fine arts play in both buildings. Student work is now being presented in art shows within the district and in competitions throughout the state. Both high schools have also curated thematic presentations in their own galleries.”

Burton also credits the district’s six-member art teaching staff with helping shift the program.

“They are all phenomenal,” he said. “They are teachers and artists themselves, so they are really bringing something else to the classroom.”

Burton said the district is also working to show off its growing program to the community. RIH will host a district art show this April.

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