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Miss. School Receives Top National Art Award

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 19 Sep 2011 04:43pm | comments
Elizabeth Sullivan's ballet class at Power APAC


It's not often Mississippi schools are recognized nationally as top performers, but APAC, the Power Academic and Performing Arts Complex in Jackson, is one of four institutions across the country just named National School of Distinction in Arts Education.  The recognition and $2000 prize comes from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Education Reporter, Annie Gilbertson, visits APAC to find out what these Mississippi educators are doing to garner national attention.

Elizabeth Sullivan is teaching eight- and nine-year-olds basic ballet placement at Power APAC. These students will dance under Sullivan's instruction for another nine years, but the discipline they learn at the ballet bar will help them all the way into the workforce.

Sullivan: “For one thing, there never was a stupid dancer. (laughs) You have to really think, and you have to be able to do math, count music, follow instructions.  So it teaches them a large focus and open mindedness.”

And her students are focused.  Each one had to audition for the Jackson Public School program which means even the elementary school students are already thinking about a career in the arts.  Take 10-year-old Zhadarian Haywood and his after school practice regime.

Haywood: “First I start running and stretch and then I start my leaps. I’m going to keep doing it until I get to high school and I’m hoping to get a scholarship.”

It's not just about excelling in arts, either.  Power APAC is one of the top performing academic programs in the state. So Principal Marlynn Martin hopes that  winning this award,will convince Mississippians to  consider  arts education as a critical element of a rigorous academic program.

Martin: “It‘s not that this group is for the arts and this group’s not.  So I think we need to really reevaluate and look at where are we going in this world and where are we going in education.”

In the past this distinction also meant a visit from Kennedy Center representatives for an official ceremony, but budget cuts to the program leaves Power APEC to celebrate solo.  The center plans festivities to coincide with their 30th anniversary next spring.

From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I'm Annie Gilbertson.


Elizabeth Sullivan's ballet class at Power APAC



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