Art courses to be weighted in Middletown


By Sharon Martin, Round Table reporter

High school art courses help students do a lot of things. They teach an appreciation for art, emphasize the value of dedication, and foster creativity. However, due to these courses being unweighted, they didn’t help students’ GPA as some other courses might do. 

All that has changed. From this year forward, certain higher level art courses will be weighted. This is all thanks to teachers in Maryland, including those at Middletown High School.

“Level three and above fine art classes are weighted [from this year forward],” said MHS counselor Erin Phelps. Weighted classes (such as AP or honors level classes, for example) are graded on a 5.0 GPA scale, while unweighted classes are graded on a 4.0 GPA scale.

“Fine art classes include all [visual] arts, music, drama, and dance classes,” Phelps added.

Plenty of MHS art students are excited about the change in grading policy. “I’m really excited for [the art courses being weighted] because I feel like I can get more credit now for all the hard work that goes into art classes,” said Olivia Yeatman, a senior ceramics student. 

 “I think a lot of the time it’s not appreciated how much effort goes into that,” Yeatman added.

“I think it’s fair and equal that students that have been dedicating themselves to the arts and that have been working through a more rigorous curriculum; I feel like those classes should have more importance as far as GPA goes,” said MHS art teacher Colin McCann.

“I think the county and the state have seen that, and they want to make it equitable for some students that might choose art as a career path,” McCann added.

Donna Lehman, another MHS art teacher, was also very happy about this grading policy change. “A lot of students, even if they want to go into art, were hesitant to take a level three art class or level four because it wasn’t weighted like other classes,” she said.

“I definitely think this will change the amount of students continuing in art, because the students that have interest in art, or [have] the idea that this is something they may be wanting to major in or go into, won’t opt out of it because they want a weighted class for the GPA.” Lehman said. “Now, this is a weighted class, and I think it really validates their career options.”

Even without the new grading policy, art classes offer more than just an opportunity to improve a student’s GPA. “I think it’s just more fun and more like you can develop a family in fine art classes because everyone’s there doing the same thing,” said MHS senior and jazz band member Kalvin Salser..

“For academic classes, not everyone wants to be there, but if you’re taking a fine art, most likely everyone wants to be there,” he added.

MHS sophomore Alayna Hu said that art classes provide a “lot more relaxing” and “less stressful” environment than other classes but schedule demands sometimes limit the number of art classes a student can take.  I love art,” Hu said. “I’ve taken one semester of art my freshman year,” but noted, “I didn’t have room for another course [this year].” 

“Especially in ceramics, I feel like you get so much creative freedom just to do what you want, and I love the hands-on aspect of it,” Yeatman said. “It’s really relaxing getting that during the school day.”

“Obviously, it would be nice if my GPA was higher,” Yeatman added, “but I think art is so important to have in your high school experience that I’m really glad I did it, even though it wasn’t weighted until now.”