Michelle Obama and Kerry Washington Celebrate Arts Education in Anacostia 


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For a little more than a year now, Anacostia’s Savoy Elementary School has had an unusually high-profile adjunct professor of sorts: actress Kerry Washington. The Scandal and Django Unchained star adopted the school last year as part of the President’s Turnaround Arts Initiative, which sends artists such as Forest Whitaker, Yo-Yo Ma, and Chuck Close to low-performing schools to increase student engagement with the arts. Washington has visited the school for master classes and meetings, Skyped with students, and sent messages to kids to help motivate their progress. “She’s been a committed presence since day one,” says principal Patrick Pope, who was appointed to the school in 2011.

Friday morning, Washington visited Savoy Elementary once again, this time with First Lady Michelle Obama in tow. Mrs. Obama visited classrooms and learned to “freeze dance” with children before addressing the entire school at a performance in the main hall. When it comes to learning, the First Lady told the students, the most important thing is to not be afraid of failure. “It’s not about what you know, it’s about the effort you’re willing to put in,” she said. “You keep trying, and sometimes you’ll make mistakes, and sometimes you’ll fail at something, but the important thing is you get back up when you fail. The only way to learn is to get it wrong so you can learn the answers.”

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