Why the arts matters...at least to me.

If I had to describe High School Freshmen Aleks I would use these four words.
1. Smart
2. Weird
3. Extroverted
4. Directionless

The summer of my freshmen year, I was fixing some grades for some classes that didn't go as well as one would hope, and that's where I met Kristin. She was smart, extroverted, and a trumpet player. I instantly fell in love (or whatever the high school freshmen equivalent is). 

After talking throughout summer school, she convinced me I should join marching band and go on tour with them to Canada because "Anyone can play a bass drum!".

So with a minimal amount of knowledge about music, I walked to office of the music teacher, Steve Accatino, and asked him if I could join the marching band. Somehow in a rather large school my directionless reputation had already reached him. However he acquiesced and I was in.

One week prior to school starting we had band camp, and I was surrounded by 70 or so kids ready to march. I was surrounded by Honors students, average students, and the not so great students. Students who would go on to be doctors, lawyers, artists, stay-at-home parents and everything in between; and for the first time I really felt like I belonged.

Music and teaching would become my passion, and it would lead me through a successful high school career, a bachelors degree, a masters degree, and a doctorate. 

So when someone asks me why the arts matter I think back to those 70 kids and I remember these two things:
1) My story is not unique, and you will find kids like me all over the country.
2) The arts welcomes everyone, free from judgement, and if you're lost, you just might find your place.

Awkward Freshmen Year Aleks. I wore this outfit to school on a regular basis.

Awkward Freshmen Year Aleks. I wore this outfit to school on a regular basis.

Me and Steve Accatino approximately 15 years later when he was preparing to retire.

Me and Steve Accatino approximately 15 years later when he was preparing to retire.