John Perillo, Supervisor Arts Education
Pablo Picasso once marveled how "every child is an artist." However, he was quick to add how difficult it was to have the child remain an artist once he/she grows up. This is a challenge that the East Brunswick School District takes very seriously.
Formal Art Education begins in the first grade and in accordance with the 2004 revision of New Jersey's Core Curriculum Content Standards for the Visual and Performing Arts, broad-based exposure to the visual arts continues for all students through grade seven.
In art classes, students learn to express themselves creatively, observe the world around them, and understand the interplay between art and society while developing techniques and skills that increase eye-hand coordination and communication abilities. They learn to appreciate the art of past and present cultures and become aware of the role of art in everyday life, its historical significance, and its importance to the people who create it and the people who enjoy it.
The visual arts are extremely rich. They range from drawing, painting, sculpture and design to architecture, photography, film, video and folk arts. In the primary grades, children work with a variety of materials while basic concepts and vocabulary are introduced. In the upper elementary grades, students explore design, color, texture and line, learn how to organize two and three-dimensional space, and examine art criticism and aesthetics in greater depth. First through third graders receive art instruction one period a week for half of the year and twice a week for the rest of the year. Fourth and fifth graders have two periods or one double period a week all year.
At Hammarskjold Middle School all students continue to gain exposure to the visual arts through cycle courses in both grade six and grade seven. Students who demonstrate greater artistic talent or interest may also take an alternate day art elective.
The NJ Standards require that by grade eight students will have gained greater depth and understanding in at least one of the arts disciplines (Dance, Music Theatre and/or Visual Arts) and by grade twelve they are able to demonstrate competency in at least one. Our secondary program affords them many opportunities to develop that competency. Eighth and ninth graders at Churchill Junior High School may select any of six art electives: Ceramics Exploration, Sculpture and Three-dimensional Design, Graphic Design/Visual Communication, Drawing Exploration, Drawing and Painting, and The World of Art.
The elective program continues at East Brunswick High School, where more varied studio courses as well as Advanced Placement Art History classes are offered. The EBHS program provides opportunities for all students (regardless of skill) but also includes a rigorous sequence of classes that prepares those considering a career in art for development of a personal portfolio of quality work. Courses include Illustration, Painting, Photography, Figure Drawing, Jewelry, Ceramics, Printmaking, Commercial Art, Airbrush, Sculpture, Interior Design, Modern Art Experience, Portfolio Development, Advanced Placement Art History, Advanced Placement Studio Art, Modern Art, Film Appreciation and Humanities. Workshop courses for advanced students are available in most studio areas.
Clearly, the district embraces the vision of the visual arts as a vital part of a complete education.