F1S investing in arts education
In a continued effort to lead the state in arts education, and improve and expand opportunities for students across the district, Florence 1 Schools is making further investments in all K-12 arts programs ahead of the 2022-23 school year. The investments total approximately $1.5 million, supplemented from various sources including federal and state grants.
At the elementary level, a band program will be started at McLaurin Elementary School. That program and the band program at Greenwood Elementary will receive high-quality instruments and essential supplies. This is part of an ongoing effort to expand access to instrumental music at all elementary schools, especially those that feed the arts magnet programs. Earlier in the 2021-2022 school year, instruments were purchased to support band programs at Wallace-Gregg Elementary and North Vista Elementary, as well as orchestra programs in several additional elementary schools in Florence 1. Currently, over 200 elementary students are studying violin with new instruments in their hands.
Elementary visual arts programs receive a variety of art supplies that teachers requested along with art panels, pedestals, and lighting systems to beautifully display student artwork. These panels will be made available to host art shows at each campus and can be seen by the public at the first Florence One All-City Art Show running April 29 through May 4 in the Yellowjacket Room at the McClenaghan Administrative Annex.
Florence One will also be investing $100,000 to improve or expand arts programs in middle schools. Piano labs will be installed at Sneed and Williams Middle Schools. Sneed Middle School will also receive new Yamaha guitars. Moore Middle School will receive new furniture for its art rooms, including drafting tables. The arts magnet band program at the new Southside Middle School, opening in Fall 2022, will receive a significant investment in new band and percussion instruments.
Coming off a very successful Fall 2021 marching band season, high school marching bands in the district will benefit from a $300,000 investment to upgrade equipment and technology. Purchases will be tailored to the needs of each school and will include new uniforms, upgraded instruments, and technology.
At West Florence, the auditorium will receive several audio and video upgrades, enhancing the space to host student productions. These upgrades will work hand-in-hand with the cinema display projectors and screens that were installed when all three high school auditoriums were modernized in 2020.
Significant renovations, totaling around $750,000, will begin over spring break on a new arts wing at South Florence High School. Designed to mirror the extraordinary facilities and programs found at schools such as the Governor’s School for the Arts in Greenville, the new arts wing at South Florence will house professionally-equipped studios for ceramics, painting, portrait photography, and digital art and design. In addition, the arts wing will have newly renovated rehearsal spaces for theater, dance, and orchestra. The hallways of the wing will be updated to include artwork created by students, with display cabinets for 3D artwork and new lighting in all spaces.
The state-of-the-art facilities will support a host of new programs and course offerings. Innovative scheduling will allow visual arts students at SFHS to take multiple arts courses simultaneously as underclassmen and, as upperclassmen, students will pick areas to specialize in. The digital art studio will have iMacs running Adobe Suite, iPads with Procreate and Apple Pencils, and high-end PC stations equipped with Unreal Engine for 3D environment creation. The ceramics studio will be equipped with a CAD-driven 3D clay printer. These advanced art programs will help prepare students to work in fields like advertising, video game design, and metaverse development.
“The variety of courses that we offer to our students will expand next year to include digital design, ceramics, painting, portrait photography, and expanded performance-based classes,” said South Florence Principal Shand Josey.
“This course expansion is only possible because of the upcoming facility renovations. These spaces will open doors for our students to explore new interests in ways that have not been previously possible. South Florence will be not just an Arts Magnet High School but a premier educational facility.”
All of these investments come on the heels of a school year filled with notable arts achievements. Nine teachers were awarded Arts Teachers Support grants from the state while three schools were once again awarded Distinguished Arts Program awards (SFHS, SSMS, Moore MS).
This year, South Florence and Southside were again recipients of a state Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) grant. SSMS students placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the SC Education Association's 2022 statewide art competition. The SFHS Choraliers took home first place in their division and were named grand champions at the OrlandoFest National Music Competition.
The WFHS and Sneed concert bands earned Superior ratings at the state Concert Performance Assessment. A record 44 students had art selected for the prestigious ArtFields Jr. competition and eight high school students from across the district were selected for All-State Band and Chor