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The Way I See It: Imagine, for a moment, a world without song

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

The long practices. The drills. The road trips. All that heavy equipment. Intense competition. Scholarships.

This time, I'm not talking about the hockey rink or the basketball court. Instead, picture the stage, the gallery and even, sometimes, the football field.

What I'm talking about is something people often believe is endangered in our schools. Discouraged, even.

I'm talking about the arts.

Not every kid is born with an athletic bone in his or her body. I wasn't. My daughter wasn't.

But what we had — what we nurtured and excelled at — was creativity. I could dance and craft prose and stories using the written word. She's an artist, photographer and singer.

And I thank heaven every day her schools gave her opportunities to share those skills with our little corner of the world, and to make herself a richer person in the process.

Being a part of advanced art studies in her school district, along with participating in choir, Madrigal Singers and musical theater, has given Kylie so many gifts — among them a sense of belonging, confidence, drive, discipline, self-esteem and, ultimately, a scholarship of her own to attend college and take those talents even higher.

Even corporations and their advertising gurus seem to know the importance of the arts.

During a very colorful commercial for one of the high-tech behemoths, a man with a soothing voice declares “And the powerful play goes on and on — and you — may contribute a verse.” He repeats it, as if to drive home the point that this device lays creativity at our feet.

Yet it seems every time there's talk of funding cuts in our state — in our country — people cry out that the defunding the arts is there, too. If you ask me, this is wrong.

Just imagine it for a moment. Imagine a world where arts are not supported. There would be no movies to make us cry, laugh and celebrate. Our walls would be bare. A child's song would be stifled, and you wouldn't even be reading this right now.

Without arts, our world would have no beat, no soundtrack. Our lives would have no joy.

So if yours is one of those children who can't swing a bat or catch a football, take heart and let her pick up a paint brush, a camera, an instrument. The more of us who do, the more those who make decisions will listen.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to take my girl to a rehearsal.

Mya Koch is editor of the Sewickley Herald. Reach her at or 412-324-1403.

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