Dear Principal

Some art teacher colleagues recently shared a letter from a former student of theirs. It was written to the new principal of the high school to express the value of arts education. What more could an art educator ask for?! While the teachers deserve all of the credit they are given, I have decided to remove all names, including the identity of the high school.

First Snow by Rory Marcaccio, art teacher
First Snow by Rory Marcaccio, art teacher

Dear Principal,

I am a graduate of your school from the class of 2012 and I currently attend the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) as a Film Student majoring in Film Editing and Sound Design. I am about to graduate this year in the Class of 2016.

Just this past weekend, I was flown out to Los Angeles as one of three finalists for the American Cinema Editor’s Student Editing Competition, for the second year in a row. I attended a cocktail party on the Universal Studios Lot and the Eddie’s at the Beverly Hills Hilton. As a finalist, I had to prepare a speech, so I’ve done a lot of thinking about who I have to thank for my success, and I feel compelled to thank the high school arts teachers who taught me so much.

Every teacher I’ve had has helped me in some way, but I must specifically thank the arts teachers who taught me to go after what I wanted even if it seemed impossible. My art teacher, photography teacher, film studies teacher, and creative writing teacher were the biggest influences in my time in high school.

I need to you to understand, in high school I was atrocious at visual art. Terrible. Absolutely terrible. But my teachers told me that I did have a talent in the arts, I just needed to put the effort into finding them. So I did. I spent 8th grade through 12th grade taking a variety of arts classes so I could discover my interests and who I wanted to be. I ended up finding myself in film studies, creative writing, and photography and decided to combine these talents and skills by studying film. I applied (stupidly) to only one school which only takes 85 film students a year, but I was accepted. Since coming to UNCSA, so many amazing experiences and opportunities have fallen into place, allowing me to start my career in full swing the moment I get out of school.

I know that without these high school teachers, I would have gotten nowhere. I wouldn’t have known what was right for me. And I would have been stuck doing anything just for the sake of graduating with a degree. That, in my opinion, is no way to live. I find that you truly live when you have the passion for the thing you are doing. So I thank them and the rest of the school for helping me find this path.

I would also like to thank you, Dear Principal. I thank you for guiding the students of your school and providing them the opportunity to find their own gifts. I hope that the unrealistic expectations and difficulty in surviving in the world of art has not stopped the school from encouraging students to express their artistic values regardless of race, gender, or financial status. Your arts programs have helped so many people learn who they are, what they need to do, and how to do it in order to find success.

Artists, whether musicians, actors, writers, dancers, designers, painters, or filmmakers; all make an extremely valuable impact on society. I hope that the arts programs at your school continue to flourish, because I know that there are some amazing students out there who need the affirmation that they can do it. Just like I did. Thank you, and the whole school, for helping me reach the dreams I never thought I could.


Editor – Class of 2016 – UNCSA

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