Creativity blooms at a STEM school

NAHS students offer insights into the benefits of art and having a strong community of artists at Jefferson


Maria Abramova

NAHS students’ artwork line the walls of the art gallery. “I think art in general helps with the way that you think,” Li said. “Just being free and being allowed to innovate the way you want is like very freeing.”

Nirja Divekar and Daphne Feigin

Brushes furiously stroke the clean canvas, telling a story with each mark. This is nothing new for members of Jefferson’s National Art Honor Society (NAHS). This honor society is a nationwide club to extend the reach of art into the community. Although Jefferson is a STEM school, members believe it is important to embrace creativity in such a competitive environment. 

Although it may not be the most well-known group at Jefferson, NAHS is a community full of art enthusiasts. There are no prerequisites apart from being registered in an art course. 

It’s similar to your typical honor societies, in that we’re kind of part of a larger community,” first-year art teacher Keith Beale said. 

In addition to the community aspect, many students embrace the opportunity to meet others who share their passion for art. 

“Normally if you’re doing art at TJ, it’s hard to share it with other people. We’re trying to make it [easier for people],” senior Kathy Li said. 

Many students are amateur artists, so NAHS provides a comfortable environment for students to experiment with new techniques and get advice from fellow artists.

 “I feel like the lack of arts program at TJ, it makes me stand out as a unique person in a STEM school,” freshman Mantra Iyer said. “I do photography. I really like capturing the best moments because a thousand words is a picture.” 

Not only does NAHS allow students at Jefferson to connect, it also serves to beautify the community through art projects and outreach programs. The NAHS students travel to Weyanoke Elementary School on Fridays during 8th period to teach art to interested elementary schoolers.

“Last Friday, we went over and we taught our first lesson on warm and cool colors as well as patterns. And that was really rewarding,” Li said. “So, not only are you learning but you’re also helping elementary school students learn something that you’re passionate about.”

NAHS helps students improve in more than just art. A first-year art teacher at Jefferson, Keith Beale believes that participating in NAHS can help with some academic concepts. 

“I think it could help with a little bit of problem-solving when it comes to time management and strategy in preparing for different events. It’s another outside source of organizational skills and you need to have some social skills as well,” Beale said. 

NAHS members emphasize that advancing skills takes more dedication than just attending meetings and being a member.

 “If you are interested in the arts as in trying to become a better artist, trying to understand a little bit more of the complications of art, that’s more of a class setting. We’re not teaching the how-tos of art, like how to make a painting and the nuts and bolts that go into it, or even art history,” Beale said. “You should be open to welcoming and understanding your failures. A lot of the progress an artist makes is through understanding what is going wrong in their work and being able to make the changes. That’s when you make bigger steps and shine as an artist.”