By: Taylor Rock
Vermont–Champlain Valley Union High School is an extremely sports-proud school. Sports get high budgets, sponsors, high praise, and more attention than most activities including theater, band, and clubs. How can we give clubs and activities more recognition?
Ricky McCollum, the sports and activities director at CVU, has a vast experience of both clubs and activities. McCollum is still adjusting to his position, but has expressed interest in advocating for both sports and activities more in the future. “Both parties have to work together. Right now it is a lot of individualized working. For example when coaches request or need things, they advocate. For me, clubs and the arts need to do the same.” He believes that in order for anything to start to move forward, communication needs to be improved. After he is all settled in, he will be able to get the ball rolling for advocacy in all departments— as long as clubs and activities advocate to him what they need.
I interviewed Cameron Brownell, CVU’s chorus and music teacher. I asked if he felt that productions like Amalie, our school’s most recent play, were advertised for strongly. He expressed that while the music and theater department does everything that they can to spread word about concerts and productions, “the arts can always use more advocates. Just getting the news out and seeing people who may not even be directly involved supporting and shining a light on it, really helps.” In the future, Brownell hopes to be put in “Celebrations” more often to advertise 2-3 weeks in advance of performances. I was fortunate enough to see the Amalie on the last night of performances. The actors were fantastic, the set was unreal, and the lighting was off of the charts. I highly encourage everyone to see a future production if you are able to.
Jason Fearon, art teacher, feels that sports are over-represented compared to other activities. “I think that we have a culture that has a hierarchy. I think sports get more recognition than announcements. I think that early dismissals for sports are seen as commonplace, whereas you wouldn’t see students being dismissed for clubs or musicals unless it were a rare occasion.” I have been dismissed on several occasions for sports such as cheerleading and basketball, but never have I personally seen an early dismissal for any musical or theater occasions. “I would like our system to be more equitable towards our students’ interests,” Fearon insists.
McCollum plans to ramp up his advocacy for non-athletic activities such as clubs, musicals, chorus, madrigals, art contests, art exhibitions, and more. The arts are an incredible way of self expression, as are sports. Both sports and activities are a fantastic way to build community and give people a bit of friendly competition as well. McCollum is more than qualified for his position, and we look forward to seeing what he does to advocate for everyone in the future. But until then… What will happen to the wallflowers who feel unseen?