For nearly all of us at SOTA, making artistic progress is just as important as making academic progress and thus, most students perform a balancing act on a regular basis. A friend of mine has several auditions for orchestra, recital practice outside of school and AP music theory homework, all on a weekly basis. For me, academics alone, there are at least three hours of homework each night. I don’t find this impossible or particularly unpleasant. I have been told that being an artist is a foolish choice with no revenue, a completely impractical occupation. In theory, it does seem quite impractical – from a purely mathematical perspective, the workload seems dreadful – but that is why it is so important to snap out of personal preoccupations and focus on managing time with all the determination one can manage. I feel that a reason for the emphasis on competition at SOTA is that the different departments want to prove to the others that we, as artists, should be taken seriously, that we need to be taken seriously because we are all working so hard.
This year, all art departments participated in an athletic competition. Representatives were chosen from each department while the remaining forces basked in the sun on the bleachers. Some activities are about synchronicity – like the hula-hoop chain, the three-legged race and the human pyramid; some are about trust, i.e. two people holding a donut from a string and one eating it; and some are about the sheer power of physical force like tug of war, which, incidentally, Creative Writing rarely participates in.
Seeing twenty-six people all dressed in the most fluorescent yellow that they could find inevitably offers a sense of solidarity. Heather ritualistically chanting, “Banana dance, banana dance, banana dance!” and the rest of us joining in until Colin succumbed to an interpretive banana dance somehow eased the stress of competition. Traditions offer cohesion. It is comforting to know that, despite stress and routine obstacles, there is a department full of people that I care about and that care about me. I write now, and I will always write, because being in an environment where improvement of art is so strongly encouraged has helped me stay fastened to my goals and the progress of my peers motivates me to improve.
Thalia Rose, Class of 2018