Wednesday, April 10, 2013


We are fortunate to reside in an area, where our children receive top-notch public education!  Prince William County schools offer a variety of programs to educate children with a wide-variety of interests. 

My son has been taking classes with the Science and Math Program, at Graham Park Middle School for his entire middle school experience.  (It is a wonderful program, he excels in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math classes (STEM).  He has had the opportunities for more hands-on experiences in the STEM field, through his challenging course work, the teachers are phenomenal, and we have been pleased with the program overall.

However, during the middle school years, my son has also taken up an instrument, the saxophone!  Coming from a parent who once had a "musical ear," and played a variety of instruments while in school, we value art as well.  He enjoys music, and to date, has played the tenor and alto saxophone!

There's just one issue.  Through the process of registering for high school classes, with his new Specialty Program, IT-Computer Programming, there is not enough space in his schedule for music/band class.  In order to play in the band, and participate in his Specialty Program, he would need to take PE in Summer School-online!  Yes, PE, in Summer School..ONLINE!  Sounds like an oxymoron, but it's true.

For the Prince William County  online PE class, children have to sign on for two hours each day from 3:30pm-5:30pm beginning June 24th and ending August 2nd, maintain an activity log, etc.  It seems like a punishment for youth who qualify for specialty classes.  Perhaps the schools could look into participation in an after school club, or outside sport, to count for the activity portion of PE, during the school year; and perhaps the health portion could be taught after school?!

What we are faced to deal with now, is STEM versus STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Math classes).  It appears to us, that STEM has STEAMrolled the importance of the arts.  Many parents with youth enrolled in challenging, yet rewarding specialty programs are forced to make similar decisions. 

Are you a parent, who's child is faced with the same options?  What would you do?  STEM or STEAM?  Weigh in with a comment!

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