DCPS students bring music, dance and art to the Department of Education
Feburary 2, 2011
Minutes before music teacher Josh Krohn led them to the stage in the U.S. Department of Education’s auditorium, Kierra James and Carlene Farmer sat with their schoolmates plucking chords on their acoustic guitars.
It was a day of firsts for the two Smothers Elementary fifth graders. Not only was it the girls’ first visit to the Dept. of Education, it was also their first time performing on stage with the school’s guitar ensemble.
And it was a day of firsts for District of Columbia Public Schools, too. The performance last week kicked off an arts showcase and ribbon-cutting for the first DCPS exhibit at the Department of Education that features the work of DCPS student artists. The Department of Education’s exhibit has featured schools from across the country on a rotating basis. This was DCPS’ turn to shine.
Forty students from 10 DC public schools had the honor of displaying their work in the exhibit, while students from four other DC public schools performed in the showcase.
“This is going to support the arts and the children,” Farmer said.
“They will see that you can follow your dreams, whether it’s music or whatever,” James said.
In the hallways outside the auditorium and on the stage inside, the work of DCPS students serves as inspiration for Dept. of Education staff and as an example of the creativity, talent and dreams emanating from DCPS classrooms, said Jacquelyn Zimmerman, co-director of the Student Art Exhibit Program at the Dept. of Education.
“With art in particular, we get a visual of the incredible creativity,” Zimmerman said. “You know this didn’t happen in a sealed-off room; they had conversations. This is another way of expressing what they’re feeling and that’s an incredible part of their development.”
The audience, full of parents, teachers, students and federal government employees, were treated to a variety of arts, including a guitar performance by Smothers Elementary students; poetry readings by Powell Elementary students; dance performances with Bruce-Monroe Elementary students; and a vocal presentation from Ellington High students.
“It’s incredibly important that the U.S. Dept. of Education recognizes the importance of arts in all our lives,” said Mary Jane Ayers, chair of the vocal music department at Ellington High School. “We’re teaching our students how to be artists and how to be artists in the world.”
Krohn, the music teacher at Smothers Elementary, said the showcase illustrates the strength of the arts integration program in DCPS.
“This event will show that students from any neighborhood can be successful,” Krohn said.
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