The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


Fine arts battles low enrollment

Number of drama sections per year drops from 10 to two over eight years
Students work together during their Performance Skills class. Performance Skills is the only drama class running this semester due to low enrollment in drama classes. Photo by Avery Copeland

After signing up for Advanced Acting and Directing during last year’s course selection process, junior Jacob Park found out towards the end of the year that the class was not happening at all because of low enrollment.

“My counselor was like, ‘Oh, you can just take Drama 2 instead,’” said Park. “‘That has enough people,’ but the thing is, when I was in Drama 1, I found out that only two people had signed up for Drama 2, and they merged the two classes.”

According to Chad Davidson, instructional supervisor for fine arts, drama enrollment has decreased significantly in the past eight years.

Glenbrook North runs an on-demand schedule, meaning the number of sections of a class offered depends on how many students sign up to take the class.

The only drama classes running this year are Performance Skills during first semester and Drama 1 and Drama 2 combined in the same classroom with a similar curriculum second semester.

“We went from having a full-time drama director, someone who taught five sections of drama each semester, down to someone who teaches one section of drama each semester,” said Davidson. “We’ve gone from offering 10 classes a year to offering two.”

Other areas of fine arts, such as choir, have also faced low enrollment in recent years.

The Fine Arts Department surveyed students in fine arts classes last year and asked them about their experiences in those courses. 

“Overwhelmingly, they reported they were having a good time,” said Davidson. “They’re saying, ‘We’re proud of the work that we’re doing, and we’re having a good time doing it.’”

While many students reported enjoying fine arts classes, the department saw low scores in students’ perceptions of how valuable fine arts classes are, Davidson said.

“[Some students] felt that they were being strongly encouraged to do something else, whether that was an academic elective that might look more attractive on a college transcript, or something that was more competitive or maybe had an honors or an AP GPA weight, which can be a very compelling reason,” Davidson said.

According to theater teacher Tim Broeker, many students in Performance Skills this year heard about the class from siblings or friends who had previously taken the class.

“There’s so many students in that class who are siblings of students who took that class before, which is huge because they heard from word of mouth, and their sibling really liked this class and they decided to take it,” said Broeker. “We really need more of that word of mouth.”

According to English teacher Julie Ann Hill, who previously taught drama classes, fine arts classes are not stressful classes and offer students the ability to be part of a group of peers.

“We know that [fine arts classes are] valuable for a sense of belonging, we know that it’s valuable for [the] well-being of students,” said Hill. “And yet, we are doing other things that I think draw students and families away from the values that arts bring.”

About the Contributor
Avery Copeland, Executive News Editor, Copy Editor
Avery Copeland (‘24) is the Executive News Editor and a Copy Editor and has been a member of Torch since her sophomore year. Previous positions: Staff Writer (21-22), News Editor (22-23), Copy Editor (22-23).