Invest in Visual Arts Pathways at NTHS

Invest in Visual Arts Pathways at NTHS

June 7, 2022
Signatures: 259Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Samantha Conner

This petition is being started with the goal of communicating to administrative leaders at North Thurston High School and district level directors in North Thurston Public Schools that offering a robust, fully-funded, fully-staffed visual arts program is an essential component of a well-rounded, enriching, and positive high school experience. 

I care about the visual arts program at NTHS - what can I do to help?

First, read this petition. Several reasons to support and expand the visual arts program at NTHS are outlined below. Next, please sign this petition.  The more signatures we gather, the greater chance we have to show that the visual arts are needed in our school. Finally, share this petition. Post on social media, share with family, friends, teachers, and community members. 
If you are so inclined, you can write an email directly to building administrators, district level directors, and NTPS school board members to advocate for the visual arts program at North Thurston High School. 


The high school visual arts program at NTHS was recently cut from 1.6 FTE to 1.0 FTE, despite the classes still being highly sought-after by students, often with waitlists forming once classes are full. Enrollment in visual arts classes (including Drawing, Painting, and Ceramics) is consistently high, with each class period maxed out to the fullest enrollment of students allowed, year after year (current class size limit is 31). By cutting 0.6 FTE worth of art classes at NTHS, roughly 180 students will not have the opportunity to take a visual arts elective next year. Cutting visual arts FTE and limiting the number of students who are able to take visual arts classes produces a variety of consequences. These negative impacts on students are grouped into themed categories and outlined below. 

Issues with Credits and Personal Graduation Pathways:

  • Fewer visual arts classes to choose from and fewer seats to go around makes it harder for students to earn their 2.0 credits worth of Fine Arts to graduate.
  • Students are forced to wait longer to get into a visual art class when space is limited - despite requesting visual arts classes every year they are in high school, numerous students report that they often don't get into a class until their junior or senior year.
  • A limited offering of visual arts classes inhibits any student who would like to pursue a visual arts pathway in high school.
  • A lack of "vertical programming" (opportunities for students to take beginning, intermediate, and advanced visual arts classes over time) robs students of the opportunity to develop a strong portfolio of work, show growth over time, explore the visual arts in depth, or authentically investigate arts-based careers.

Equity Concerns:

  • Because of the decision to staff the visual arts at 1.0 FTE for the 2022-2023 school year, North Thurston High School will be offering 50% fewer art classes than Timberline and River Ridge High Schools.
  • NTHS is the only mainstream traditional high school in the NTPS district that does not offer an AP Studio Art course - a year-long, rigorous, academically and creatively challenging class in which students complete a visual arts portfolio, potentially earn college credit, and can repeat for additional art elective credit.
  • Offering fewer visual arts classes limits the number of seats available to students with unique needs who typically flourish in a visual arts setting, including but not limited to students who qualify for Special Education services, students with IEP's and 504 plans, and students who are English Language Learners. The visual arts classes are an essential space for ALL students, and especially those who thrive on the content and curriculum that is easily modified to be accessible and engaging.

What do visual arts classes offer in addition to art-specific skills, techniques, and knowledge? Why should we care about offering visual arts classes if students don't plan on becoming artist when they grow up?

  • Visual arts classes challenge students to develop skills that are valuable far beyond the art studio. Some of the Studio Habits of Mind that are consistently used in the NTHS visual arts classes are to engage and persist, stretch and explore, develop craft, envision, express, observe, and reflect. Developing these abilities gives students the autonomy, higher level thinking skills, and independence to be successful far beyond high school.
  • Visual arts classes offer a valuable space in which students feel safe and seen - they are presented with artists and art styles that are reflective and inclusive of their experiences and identities. Visual arts teachers at NTHS take special care and consideration when making sure that the artists, artwork, content, and curriculum presented to students showcases a diversity of identities, including gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, physical ability, language ability, culture, national origin, and more. We know that representation in classrooms matters and is directly linked to student success - visual arts classes fill this role perfectly. 
  • Goal 2 of the North Thurston High School School Improvement Plan reads as follows: Every student will feel safe as an empowered, responsible, and resilient learner, open to and accepting cultural
    diversity and perspectives, and empowered to advocate for and pursue their own educational passions. This goal aligns exactly with several previous bullet points. Cutting visual arts FTE at NTHS means that fewer students will have the opportunity to meet this goal in a way that is authentic and meaningful to them. 

I care about the visual arts program at NTHS - what can I do to help?

  • First, sign this petition. Please share a statement about why you are signing. What impact have visual arts classes made on your life? How have they shaped your experience at NTHS? How will a cut of 0.6 FTE impact you? What would you like building administrators and district level directors to consider as they make hiring decisions for the next school year?
  • Next, please share this petition. Post on social media, share with family, friends, teachers, and community members. 
  • If you are so inclined, write an email directly to building administrators, district level directors, and NTPS school board members. Students, alumni, parents, and community members can all make an impact by making your voices and concerns heard. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our concerns and support this cause. Hopefully, with enough support, the visual arts program at North Thurston High School will be restored to the 1.6 FTE level, and hopefully continue to grow from there!

Support now
Signatures: 259Next Goal: 500
Support now