SMSD News: Shawnee Mission celebrates music in our schools and Youth Art Month

March is the time when we give special recognition to the arts in the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD), including both visual and performing arts. This month, we celebrate both Music in our Schools month and Youth Art Month.

All through the ups and downs of a unique school year, students and staff have persevered to continue visual and performing arts education. On Monday, March 22, the Shawnee Mission Board of Education approved an “Arts Are Education” resolution, emphasizing the power of arts education to change students’ lives.

Click here to view the approved resolution, pledging to maintain and grow arts education programs in the 2021-2022 school year and beyond.

Visual Arts

As part of this celebration, Shawnee Mission is proud to share district-wide quarterly art shows, featuring the work of students from grades Pre-K through 12 across Shawnee Mission.

Click here to view the newest art show

Click here to view the art show from Quarter 1

Click here to view the art show from Quarter 2

On May 1, artwork from across the district will also be shared digitally on, Facebook, and Twitter, AND as part of the district-wide R&D Forum, which highlights innovative student projects in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).

Abby Howe, visual arts coordinator, note that these art shows are an example of how arts education supports a well-rounded educational experience.

“A quality art education builds academic skills and increases academic performance, because it helps students develop creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities,” Howe expressed.

Performing Arts

Students and staff in the performing arts have also continued to present their talents to audiences, while expanding their skills in a challenging year. Many students involved in theatre, for example, have created digital performances, which have involved student actors filming, running audio, lighting, and editing their portion of a production to later be compiled into an entire play. Musical ensembles have shared their talents in digital, streamed, and outdoor performances.

Reflecting on the role music can play in social-emotional learning, Bill Thomas, SMSD performing arts coordinator and SM West director of bands, talked about how music can change the feel of a movie, take our imagination on a journey, or even “comfort the soul or inspire a nation.”

“Each day our teachers help students learn to appreciate the sounds around them, and then more importantly, they help them add to the musical conversation through creating their own musical thoughts, textures, and melodies,” Thomas shared.

Click here to view the performing arts calendar, and stay up-to-date on student and staff performances.