The following Letter to the Editor appeared in the online edition of the Belmont Citizen Herald on March 18, 2021 and appeared in the print edition on March 25, 2021.

I first walked into Belmont High School as a Wellington kindergartner, when my school was being rebuilt. Our core classes were held in boxy, grey modulars in the parking lot, but we got to take fine and performing arts classes in the main building. I was so excited to see the murals covering the walls, the music coming from the band room, and the set pieces lining the stage of the auditorium. From then on, I pictured myself playing in the orchestra and taking art classes with some of the amazing teachers that work at this school. I was lucky enough to have been in the orchestra and the AP art class at BHS, as well as all of the Performing Arts Company productions after school. 

The core of the BHS spirit is rooted in the arts. For me and many others, arts classes have been a safe space, a distraction, or a healthy creative outlet for the stress we all face. They have shown me what perseverance and self-expression look like. 

These classes build connections and teach so many important lessons that the core curriculum isn’t capable of conveying. They bring out something truly special in every student. Until junior or senior year, students have minimal choice in terms of their classes. Electives have always been something students have had a say in choosing, allowing them to develop their own creativity alongside their academic learning. I know that without these programs, I wouldn’t have become the imaginative learner I am today. The arts have become something I rely on, something I look forward to everyday. They have shaped me into who I am, and I would hate for other students at BHS to have fewer opportunities to take these classes and build their own creativity. They’ve helped students find passions they wouldn’t have known about had they not been introduced to these programs. I have learned so much about myself through the visual and performing arts, and I have pushed myself more than I thought I ever could to become a better person because of them. 

Like most students, I am not old enough to vote. I am asking for you to vote yes to sustain programs for me and future students who stand to benefit. Please vote “yes” on April 6 for us. 

Anjana Balakrishnan, Preble Gardens Road

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