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Thirty Clarence High School students got a real-life civics lesson Thursday while protesting cuts in their school arts programs.

They made their point, but also got suspended.

"If you cut class, there is a penalty," School Superintendent Thomas G. Coseo said.

About 150 students were involved in the early morning protest that students organized outside the Main Street high school in hopes of restoring some art classes the students thought had been eliminated through budget cuts.

When classes started, most of the students went inside and met with administrators, who explained that fewer art classes are being offered because fewer students are signing up for art -- not because of budget cuts, Coseo said.

But about 30 students failed to enter the building, despite instructions from school officials, Coseo said.

The 30 received two-day suspensions for insubordination and being truants, said high school Principal Joseph Gentile.

Some former students continued the protest after most of the current students went inside, Gentile said. The picketing ended when rain began, he added.

With tougher state academic standards that require three years of math and sciences, the number of students signing up for art and business courses has declined, Coseo said. Students are taking more math and science instead, he said.

Only six students signed up for computer-generated art next year, and only nine enrolled in sculpture, Coseo said. The courses, therefore, will not be offered next year,

"We have minimums (for number of students in a class)," Coseo said.

Students basically decide whether a class will be offered by signing up for it, administrators said.

Coseo added that four of the district's art teachers will retire this year and, because fewer students are enrolling in art classes, some of the positions will not be filled.


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