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Can the Arts Save Students?
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Author: Anne Midgette

In a second-floor classroom in an Anacostia elementary school, the pupils are about to be exposed to Great Art: The cellist Yo-Yo Ma is bringing in his Stradivarius. The kids have been told how important Yo-Yo Ma is, and one wall is lined with press photographers and TV cameras.

Two kids are wandering around on stilts, costumed as masked scarecrow-like monsters, like unexplained extras in a European art film, their presence somehow part of the whole artistic process. The other children, lined up in ragged but orderly formation, perform the “daily do” — “do” as in do-re-mi, unison scale patterns that have become part of their routine in a new, arts- ­focused curriculum.

And then they wait. Everyone is fully prepared for art to happen, but Ma has yet to make his entrance. But that’s fine. As many schools are learning these days, art can take a while to pay off.

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