High School Nation Brings the Arts to Life

Samantha Winn, Co-Writing Editor

In schools, the arts isn’t something that comes with lots of value.

They don’t give a career. They only give entertainment value, but the arts are more than that.

High School Nation, however, as organization group to spread and help facilitate arts education and funding, continues to make arts a part of the average lifestyle of a teen.

Started four years ago by Jimmy Cantillon and his brother out in California, they saw the a discrepancy between public high school arts funding and teens having the materials to continue artistic passions.

“There was so many things I got to do in high school and I feel like this generation is being robbed of that around the country,” Cantillon said.

After working in the entertainment and record label industry, Jimmy Cantillon decided to step away to do something about it.

“I felt responsible because I could do something, that I should do something. So when we started High School Nation four years ago,” Cantillon said. “If you would have told me four years ago that at this point we would have donated 1.5 million dollars in brand new musical equipment, arts supplies, I would have called you a liar. But we have, and I’m super proud of it.”

Starting with the connections he already had, Cantillon started to put together a bus-stop tour. The first tour, in the Fall of 2012, travelled around California to give pop-up music festivals to high schools. Ever since, a tour each fall and spring have been travelling around the United States with new up and coming bands to perform and donate new arts equipment to schools.

Part of the mission of High School Nation has to help students try to discover music.

“I think a lot of people have the misconception that by the time they hit high school it’s too late for you,” Cantillon said. “I hope that people come out and find, on accident maybe, by just sitting down and having fun with their friends in one of our zones, that you have some natural ability for rhythm,or for painting, or whatever it is.”

High School Nation also hopes to expose students to a form of creative expression.

“I think the other part of it is that you know hopefully if you’re not good you at least get the creative expression and it’s something that allows you to build self esteem and feel more confident in yourself,” Cantillon said. “Even if you don’t share your work or even if you’re not good at it, it’s ok it’s just something that helps you discover who you are and helps you better understand who you are, where you come from, what you have to say, what you’re voice is.”

Along with showcasing up and coming bands for each tour, Drake Bell, famously known from the Nickelodeon TV Show, “Drake and Josh,” is the headliner this fall tour.

“He’s a great guy and it’s been awesome the past few years getting to know him, hanging out with him all over the United States, and seeing people’s reactions to him; that’s one of my favorite things,” Cantillon said.

High School Nation aspires, through their pop up tours, to inspire students to rediscover the arts.

“If your singing, get on stage and sing as much as you can, if you’re dancing, audition as much as you can. If your acting, audition as much as you can.”