Orchard Gardens School Tapped by White House for Arts Program

Orchard Gardens K-8 School, a City Connects School in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, was tapped yesterday to participate in the Turnaround Arts Initiative, an effort of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

The Turnaround Arts Initiative launched in eight persistently underperforming, or “turnaround,” schools across the country. The two-year initiative pairs celebrities with schools to encourage creative expression like art, music, and dance in the school’s improvement efforts. Schools will be provided art supplies, musical instruments, and community engagement events, as well as professional development for school staff. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and dancer Damian Woetzel are paired with Orchard Gardens.

Securing arts and enrichment activities for students is a crucial aspect of the City Connects model.  Katy Baker, the City Connects School Site Coordinator at Orchard Gardens, said:

We are so proud of our school! Orchard Gardens truly values the arts, and it shows in so many areas of our students’ development. The arts can be such a powerful tool in engaging students.

NEA ReportResearch supports art education as a means of advancing academic achievement in schools. The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities released a report in May 2011 about the state of arts education in US schools, “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools” [pdf]. The report showed that availability of arts education schools varies widely, with disparities especially present in high-poverty schools. In March 2012, the National Endowment for the Arts published a report, “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies” [pdf], that showed students who had a low socioeconomic status but were involved in the arts had better academic outcomes, higher career goals, and greater engagement in their communities.

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