Senator stresses value of arts during visit

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, spoke to students and teachers about the value of arts education during a visit to Herkimer Jr./Sr. High School on Monday, March 27.

“March is Youth Art Month, and I wanted to come here to Herkimer, because your art teachers do a great job,” the senator said.

View photos from the senator’s visit on the district’s official Facebook page.

Seward was greeted with a performance by the high school jazz ensemble, directed by Dillon Cerullo, before visiting the art classes of Leah Zorn and Heather McCutcheon.

In Leah Zorn’s Introduction to Painting and Advanced Art class, Seward spoke with students, who were working on a variety of projects, including painting designs on small wooden boxes.

In Heather McCutcheon’s classroom, the senator got a look at the art department’s new 3-D printer, which McCutcheon said some of her students are using to add three-dimensional objects to two-dimensional artworks such as paintings.

The senator said he was impressed with the skill level of the students’ work, and noted that the skills developed in art class can translate to many other areas of life.

“Art is very important in our curriculum,” Seward told students. “Some may say it’s frivolous or not necessary, but a lot of the skills you use in art are transferred over to other subjects. It helps make all of you well-rounded students and well-rounded people. Having that creative side is going to benefit you throughout life.”

After visiting the art classrooms, Seward posed for a photo with the students, and went downstairs to see the recently renovated Library Media Center. There, the men’s select chorus choir directed by John Krause, sang two selections for the senator, including “She Loves You” by the Beatles.

“It really takes me back to my youth!” Seward exclaimed as he applauded the performance.

Of his visit, the senator said, “It’s a great break from budgeting in the state capital to come and see the great work that’s being done by Herkimer students. Here in Herkimer, they commemorate Youth Art Month in a very, very big way, and I think that’s very positive.”

Heather McCutcheon, who invited Sen. Seward to visit Herkimer as co-chair of Youth Art Month for New York state, said she appreciated the show of support from Seward, particularly as he and fellow legislators continues its work on the state budget.

“I’m very grateful that Sen. Seward came to show his support for the arts,” McCutcheon said. “Arts education promotes creativity, critical thinking skills and cultural awareness, and we’re thankful to have support for these important programs.”