Kennedy Center Honors supporting schools nationwide in arts education

- The 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors was held on Sunday honoring artistic achievements by Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J, Norman Lear, Lionel Richie and Carmen De Lavallade.

It was more than just a star-studded gala. Ticket sales from the event help the Kennedy Center support arts education in schools nationwide, especially in the D.C. region.

FOX 5 visited a school that benefits in Prince George’s County. Montpelier Elementary School in Laurel is one of 73 schools in the county with arts integration programs.

“The overall objective is to find a way that all students can connect to the learning,” said John Ceschini, who heads the arts integration program.

He says arts integration is about utilizing the arts to engage students in other subjects like math and science, when there is a natural connection.

In a fifth grade classroom, students performed a humorous skit they wrote about a turkey who is trying to avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner.

“Worked on it two days, got rid of some scenes, added some scenes,” said student Jordon Blake, who starred in the show.

“I was typing it up, and it was kind of serious,” said student Shauna Cosmas, who was the primary writer of the script. “And [my friends] were like, ‘Add in a little joke there, add in a little joke there,’ and I was laughing the whole time.”

In a second grade classroom, students learning how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly made up a dance to go with the lesson.

“It was fun and a little bit creative,” said student Folefa Nkemchap.

“It was kind of interesting because we got to use our imagination,” said student Elizabeth Rivas.

The school system has various partners to further arts education, including the Kennedy Center.

“The role that we played is offering professional development for teachers,” said Amy Duma, director of teacher and school programs for the Kennedy Center. “So that they can learn how to bring the arts into their classrooms and connect or integrate the arts with science, social studies, math, language arts -- the subjects that they are already teaching.”

Students said in addition to enjoying arts integration, they’ve benefited from it too.

“I guess what it gained for me is more confidence because I had people who were actually enjoying [the play],” said Jordon.

Some students are already thinking about incorporating the arts in their future. Jordon and Elizabeth said they want to be newscasters. Folefa wants to be an art teacher while Shauna said she wants to be an actress.

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