Staples art department attempts normalcy despite influx in students


Photo by Ella Shi '23

There is an influx of students taking art classes including the Introduction to Drawing class pictured above.

Due to recent changes in graduation requirements that decreased the number of physical education credits for class of 2023 and beyond, there is a higher demand for primarily introductory art classes. As a result, this year the Staples art department has witnessed an influx in students and awarded an increased budget, according to PreK-12 Music and Visual Arts Coordinator, Stephen Zimmerman.

“The visual arts at Staples is thriving,” Zimmerman said. “We are at capacity or over capacity in every one of our courses.”

Zimmerman went on to acknowledge that given the dramatic shift in the number of student course requests made, not all demands could be met. However, he is pleased to see the levels of interest, and he has hopes that, if the trend continues, that more and more students will graduate with college-portfolio-worthy work.

“There is a great balance of introductory classes like Drawing, Photo[graphy] 1, and Jewelry [Making] as well as advanced level courses for our dedicated students who participate in our courses for two, three or four years,” Zimmerman said. 

To meet the demand for higher level courses, Zimmerman concedes the need to keep the program well staffed with qualified instructors.

“As the coordinator,” Zimmerman said, “I work with our guidance department, art teachers and the central office to try and ensure that we’re meeting the needs of students by advocating for additional staff. ”

However, despite these efforts, there have been reports of depleted and limited resources. There have also been challenges with classroom space that is linked to staffing issues.

I think everyone is happy to be able to go back to the methods of teaching art and being able to use our classrooms as they were designed to be used.

— Carla Eichler

“My design classes have gone up in size slightly to accommodate students who want to take the classes,” Graphic Design teacher Carla Eichler said. “The traditional art courses cannot typically go up in size as the classrooms cannot accommodate more students. Sadly, we cannot add more sections unless another art teacher is hired.”

In addition, there are continued COVID-19 concerns that affect the more interactive components of class.

“The only thing is that it’s hard for us to do still lifes,” AP Drawing student Saylor Frankel ’22 said,“because normally we all sit at a big table, and now we need to divide up.”

Despite these difficulties, there was an overall sense of optimism for the 2021-2022 art programs.

“I think the year is off to a great start,” Eichler said. “I think everyone is happy to be able to go back to the methods of teaching art and being able to use our classrooms as they were designed to be used.”