Wiley H. Bates Middle School
By Colette Krebs, sophomore at Annapolis High School’s Performing and Visual Arts Magnet Program
I want you to think of your life right now. Think about who you work with. There may be that one person who loves movies or sports or drawing. Everyone you work with, you put a label on. Not necessarily bad, just who they are in your mind. That girl over there, she’s a reader. You, you are a church goer. We all label people and we’re all labeled.
My name is Colette Krebs. I am 15, a sophomore in the Performing and Visual Arts Magnet Program (PVA) at Annapolis High School in Anne Arundel County.
If you asked me what my life would be like without art, my answer would be simple. Empty. It would have to be because I can’t remember life without it.
From my first memories of school –including preschool at Creative Gardens—the arts have always been part of what I do. I’m speaking today because I want you to know the impact art can have.
Before art was seriously introduced in my life in the Wiley H. Bates Middle School PVA program (I was in the first year of students to attend), I was a bit of a loner. That was my label. I was the girl who would spend lunch reading Harry Potter rather than hanging out with friends.
In PVA, work was collaborative, so you became vulnerable as you opened up. Through this process, especially in theatre, I was able to communicate better, I made friends, and I learned ways that art can be used to succeed outside of art classes.
All of my classes, even science and even math, were arts integrated. One of my favorite memories was in my eighth grade geometry class. We were drawing a city landscape, keeping the buildings proportionate with geometric measurements. Young Audiences made that moment possible by training our teachers and by providing professional artists who came into the school to teach us.
In theatre, when we are given monologues, we are only given a part of a character and we have to fill in all the details. So when it came to science and math, where my classmates struggled, I had no issue memorizing the vocabulary and formulas, analyzing situations, and finding creative solutions.
My arts training also taught me how to work under pressure, which really helped me with homework. I am in school from 7:17 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. because of the extended arts day. And, until recently, I added even more time, as I played a dynamic role in Electra so I couldn’t start homework until 8:00 at night.
Unlike many of my art friends, I wasn’t aggressive in getting the lead, I wasn’t emotional about relationships or projects or Angelina Jolie. I preferred to stay inside my head, making observations, but PVA didn’t allow me to do that. It pulled me straight out of my shell. At first, I felt scared; I had been yanked out of everything I’ve known in front of complete strangers, but almost immediately, I loved it. These weren’t regular kids, these were artists. Loud, obnoxious, funny, opinionated, rambunctious, and everything else you could want in a friend. I didn’t want to go back to the way it was and they certainly weren’t about to let me.
It has always been my dream to grow up and incorporate the arts in my life, but I thought it was black and white. I could dance, sing, act, or be an artist.
But art isn’t about exactness. In art there are a lot of gray areas that you get to fill in with all the colors of the rainbow, pirouettes, and C major chords.
When you experience art, something changes inside you and all of a sudden, you’re able to see the world in a new way.
I found my own way through life with the help of art, the support of my parents, Bates and Annapolis, and Young Audiences. Without this, I wouldn’t be here today. I know that I am lucky to have these experiences and I hope that through Young Audience’s work, many more kids will be just like me: building their dreams around a future that is hopeful. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know that with art it will be beautiful and full of hope.
When I was young, I was labeled a loner. Now that I’m older, I’m proud to say that I’m not a loner. I am an artist.
Colette shared how the arts have affected her life inside and outside of school at Young Audiences’ Impact Breakfast in November.