One of the biggest goals of the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council is to bring access to arts education into the public school systems of all the parishes we serve. Whether it be marching band, dance, visual arts, orchestra, or choir, we believe it is our community’s obligation to provide our students with these life-changing opportunities which cultivate imagination and creativity. Yet after conducting research, we found that there are still currently 9,922 rural public school students without a single opportunity for an arts education class.
We were happy to have the chance to visit Franklin Parish High School and get to know student Deterrius Johnson, also known as DJ, who is a qualified Talented Music student. DJ is currently a rising senior and has been enrolled in his school’s choir classes through middle school and high school. DJ first shared with us that music has always been a huge influence in his life. His mother was in their church’s choir at King Jesus Worship Center since he was born; he joined that choir as well when he was 9-years-old and continued singing ever since.
“I’ve been singing most of my life. My momma said when she used to sing in the choir, she could feel me jumping in her stomach when she was pregnant with me,” said DJ.
DJ explained that that he was so thankful for the Talented Music program and for his school’s choir program because he felt as if it gave him a time to shine and grow in his overall confidence. He paid regards to his choir director who taught him several techniques such as how to control his breathing and how to conduct his warm-up exercises. Not only is DJ a singer at his home church and high school, he is also a music minister for three other local churches where he plays piano and organ. Music is clearly such a huge part of DJ’s life, and he wants to keep it that way. After graduating, he plans to attend college and major in classical voice performance where he will focus on the genres of opera and gospel.
Some ideas that DJ wants to make known to the community is how much of a positive impact arts education provides. He wishes there were more public support for arts programs because they are continually cut short and neglected versus other aspects in school systems. He wishes that people did not view music as short-lived flashy concerts and focused more inwardly on how the arts can transform one’s inner spirit like it does to his.
“It’s not just about shows- it’s really about what you feel on the inside. Music is like a way to escape. If I’m in a bad mood, all I have to do is sing and I’ll be alright. It uplifts me,” said DJ.
Just as it does for DJ, arts education literally changes one’s being and one’s future. The Arts Council is creating many initiatives to bring the gift of arts into schools, and one way we are doing that is by the creation of a 2018-2019 Arts Teachers’ Wish Lists. We gave teachers around the 318 the opportunity to share items they need to complete their arts classrooms. When you give, 100% of your donation will go directly towards the completion of the teachers’ classrooms.