LSHS will see an unfortunate end to its photography program

Due to “low annual salary” and “lack of interest” Lake Stevens High School’s photography program will end in 2022


Aimel Rai

Absence of the arts: Students work hard to learn the principles of photography. After the retirement of the previous photography teacher, the program transitioned from five to three classes. ‘It’s another transition in a year or two full of transitions,” current photography teacher Jody Cain said.

Photography has been a class at LSHS for over a decade; however, it will no longer be offered next year. Due to the retirement of the previous photography teacher, Elizabeth Granillo, the school could no longer find a replacement to teach AP photography.

“In order to teach AP courses through photography, we’d have to have a teacher that was skilled and experienced in teaching photography, and unfortunately, when we posted for the position last year for photography, we didn’t get anybody that was qualified to teach the course,” Director of CTE, Dan Tedor said.

Transitioning to this year, the photography program is not offering AP classes. Gen-ed classes were also reduced from five sections from last year to three sections this year. Next year, the school will not offer photography classes in their entirety.

The reason given by Tedor for the termination of the photography program was that the annual mean salary of photographers is lower than $50,000 in Washington state, and there is a lack of interest. As a district, Lake Stevens acted upon their local control, reviewing data, course enrollment, and student post-secondary outcomes to come to the decision of terminating the program.

“Photography has very low demand, it doesn’t pay very well for those students or for those people in those careers,” Tedor said.

However, looking at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated to be between $48,080-$75,000 in Washington, which is over the $50,000 salary statistic provided by CTE.

Regarding the lack of interest, the U.S. Bureau of labor statistics shows an increase of 17% in the need for photographers in the upcoming decade. The jobs will increase from 110,500 in 2020 to 129,00 in 2030. This is an increase of 18,900 jobs.

Not only does data show that there will be a significant increase in photography-based professions and employment, but many students at LSHS have professed their interests in photography.

“In response to you saying like, there wasn’t much interest, I tried to get in photography but they said it was full,” junior Ellie Psaradelis said.

Photography is only a small piece of the arts program at LSHS; however, the termination of the photography program turns its back on arts-inclined students. The fine arts program has no AP classes or honor classes except for music theory.

Every student at Lake Stevens High School is expected to excel in academics, but what about students who aren’t academically inclined but are arts inclined and passionate about art? The school currently offers nearly no challenge classes through which arts inclined students can show their skills and excellence to arts programs they may want to pursue post-high school.

“If you want to go into arts, the opportunity to have an AP credit in something that they know they can excel in is something that we should offer,” Psaradelis said.

The school currently offers 13 AP academic-based classes compared to only 1 AP art class. This ratio shows that the arts are being somewhat overlooked. Classes can be cut merely based on “future annual salaries”. There is a consensus among students of LSHS that regardless of annual projected salary, students who want to try out the arts, like photography, should be given that opportunity.

Sophomore Summer Delong believed students should be able to experience something that maybe they’ve never tried before. If they like to do it, they can always keep doing it or they can try something different. Both Psaradelis and Delong concurred that every student should be given the opportunity to be able to express themselves and experience new things without having to worry about their projected salary or interest for the next decade.

Cutting down on the art classes like photography and negligence of higher-level art classes merely because of salary and interest has left many students with no platform on which they can fully express themselves without the worry of their whole program being shut down.

High School is where students figure themselves out and with a constant blockade of creative outlets based on salary and not talent, or experience is decreasing their level of education. We as a school, which says they value the arts as one of our core values, need to step up and provide students with enriching opportunities, not cut them down. If CTE is unable to offer photography, perhaps the next step for the fine arts program is to elevate course offerings to meet the needs of art students with college ambitions.