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Arts & Culture - Arts & Education

January 27, 2012 - The Hoffman Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall hosted a dedication of a new and exciting work by artist Kevin Reese, and students of Skycrest Elementary.

Friends of the PASSport program, Skycrest Elementary and the community at large gathered in front of the school for a moving and inspiring portrait of arts-infused education in action.

This piece is the culmination of a week-long residency by Mr. Reese at Skycrest, in which students will create an permanent, moving sculpture that embodies the ideas of empowered learning in and through the arts.

For more examples of Mr. Reese's works across the nation, please check out his website at

Image of dedication
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Did You Know?

Image of young lady playing instrumentYoung people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week for at least one full year are:

  • 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
  • 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
  • 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
  • 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
  • 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem

Arts education...

  • makes a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the "learning field" across socio-economic boundaries.
    (Involvement in the Arts and Success in Secondary School, James S. Catterall, The UCLA Imagination Project, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, UCLA, Americans for the Arts Monograph, January 1998)
  • has a measurable impact on youth at risk in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems while also increasing overall academic performance among those youth engaged in after school and summer arts programs targeted toward delinquency prevention.
    (YouthARTS Development Project, 1996, U.S. Department of Justice, National Endowment for the Arts, and Americans for the Arts)

Clearwater's Cultural Plan recognizes the importance of lifelong learning in and through the arts. The Plan encourages collaborative partnerships and advocacy for stronger arts programs in the school, such as the program at Skycrest Elementary.

"A" is for the Arts!

Image of children singingSheila Jaquish, the Principal at Skycrest Elementary School, recently received good news. Once again, this 5 star school, whose focus is "success through the arts", had received an "A" rating.

When looking at the national averages for a school with a high minority population and where most of the students receive free or reduced lunch, various challenges might be anticipated. Surpassing the statistical expectations, these students are academically thriving!

What's making the difference at Skycrest? The administration and teaching staff credit the arts as being one of the key factors that's providing the exceptional results in academic achievement. At Skycrest, learning is enhanced through the visual and performing arts, challenging students in new and exciting ways. Teaching content through an interdisciplinary approach enables students to make connections between subjects and provides opportunities for creative self-expression. Arts experiences bring powerful meaning to math, science, language and social studies concepts by engaging emotions as well as intellect in real-life, hands-on experiences. In this Arts-infused school, families, teachers and administrators work together to provide a program rich with educational possibilities for young people. And community partners provide a valuable resource.

Skycrest Elementary has a unique partnership with the Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Students experience arts-infusion in the classroom and curriculum-infusion in the arts. Intensive visits from Artists in Residence allow every grade level to grasp academic concepts through arts learning styles. The PASSPORT to the Arts Program, created by Educational Director Joyce Bonomini Wehner, mentors the teachers as well, which benefits the curriculum and encourages the arts in the every day life of the school. Professional music performances that tour Ruth Eckerd Hall are often brought to the campus so students see performances throughout the year. The Florida Orchestra also sends musicians to the school.

Image of children viewing artAdditional community partners got involved this year with the school's annual arts fundraiser, entitled "Night of the Arts" which was co-sponsored by the Clearwater Arts Alliance, the Pinellas County Cultural Affairs Department, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Dunedin Fine Arts Center, and the City of Clearwater Division of Cultural Affairs. The evening featured artist demonstrations, a choral and orchestra showcase and a student art auction. Funds raised during this event benefited the school's art program.

Indeed, this arts infusion formula seems to be working for the students at Skycrest. They are an "A" rated school: "A" for arts and "A" for academics that top the charts.