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Keeping the Arts in Public Schools

It’s a favorite time of year for students, teachers, and parents as the weather finally cools, leaves begin changing, and pumpkins pop up on every corner. Oh, and students across the country make the daily trek back to school.

For 16 lucky schools, those students and arts teachers can add a little more bounce to their steps. Last fall, consumers and arts advocates selected 16 grant winners by voting for their favorite K–12 public school during KRIS Wine’s Art of Education contest.

$25,000 was disseminated to schools all over the country to be used for arts programming. From Washington to Michigan and L.A. to Georgia, funds are being used for a wide range of projects. In an era where funding for strong arts programs consistently fall by the wayside, every extra dollar helps.

For the following schools KRIS Wine’s investment has made all the difference:

Kenmore Elementary, Kenmore, WA

Kenmore Elementary was the top awarded school in the KRIS wine “Art of Education” program. “We believe the money will greatly help us in continuing to provide an enriching educational experience,” said Principal Steve Hopkins. Kenmore Elementary plans to use the grant to host an artist-in-residence for the entire 2013 school year to conduct a series of visual art lessons with 500 students in its K–6 classes.

Lake Ridge Elementary, Magna, UT

Lake Ridge Elementary was able to fund costumes and scenery for The Avalanche, an opera created entirely by fourth grade students. The opera took the class nearly the whole school year to organize from writing the story and music to painting all 320 square feet of scenery. Barbara Knowlden, fourth grade teacher shared, “With the money from KRIS Wine, I was able to purchase the necessary supplies. It really helped my students’ self-esteem as they realized what they accomplished and how wonderful they looked in the costumes!”

Sunnyside Intermediate School, Havre, MT

Sunnyside Intermediate purchased art supplies for students to create their own rendition of Vincent Van Gough’s Starry Night. This donation provided the materials to enhance art curriculum for the school’s 300 students in the fourth and fifth grades.

West Michigan Academy of Arts & Academics, Spring Lake, MI

West Michigan Academy of Arts & Academics supported their annual Festival of the Arts, a week-long event that involves the school’s 400 students in grades K–8. The school brought in over 40 guest presenters to share how they use creativity in their chosen art form. Carolyn Gilmore, arts coordinator said, “The voting opportunity created a special ‘school spirit’ atmosphere that involved families and community members that are in support of our mission.”

The 12 other winning schools are using the grants to purchase much-needed art supplies, help implement hands-on projects, and engage students in arts education activities that would have not been possible otherwise.

The 2012 “Art of Education” contest is currently in full swing. Vote now through October 31 for the chance for your school to win!

Currently, Brunswick Acres School in Kendall Park, NJ is leading the contest, thanks in part to this creative student-made video:

Sometimes it just takes a song parody to galvanize a community. We encourage others to take similar creative approaches to the contest. Please let us know if you do!

If your school won, how do you think it should spend $5,000 to help arts education?

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