Orchard Gardens K-8 Public School in Roxbury used to have a definite “prison feel”, according to new principal Andrew Bott. Bott, assuming the role of principal in 2010, made the decision to redirect the hundreds of thousands of dollars going towards security guards and spend it instead on art teachers. Now, 10% of the school’s budget goes towards arts and physical education. The kids that were once shuffled from class to class, forbidden from wearing backpacks due to the risk of concealed weaponry, are now chillin with Yo-Yo Ma; walking through bright halls lined with paintings from their peers; attending ballet performances; and, as put by 8th grader Keyvaughn Little, “I’ve been more open, and I’ve expressed myself more than I would have before the arts have came”.
Orchard Gardens now has one of the fastest student improvement rates state-wide. Even the principal admits that it may have been “a little crazy”, but the switch has obviously worked in the kids’ favor.
Some more wisdom from our friend Keyvaughn, whose grades have improved due to increased confidence from his new art classes: “There’s no one particular way of doing something, and art helps you like see that”.
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