BSO lists 12 schools for arts partnership


Students in 12 Baltimore-area schools will be learning their Three R's -- as well as other subjects -- through lessons in the arts as part of a pilot program initiated by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

The names of the schools chosen to participate in the six-year, $2 million project were announced yesterday by BSO officials. They include nine city and county public schools and three private schools.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who came to Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to congratulate the principals of the chosen schools, said the program would be "a true partnership" between the symphony and community educators.

"Not only are we going to get some real arts lovers in the schools, but some of them may end up in the BSO," he said.

Called ArtsExcel, the program is based upon the premise that children learn all subjects better through the arts.

Participating city schools are Belmont Elementary, Maree Garnett Farring Elementary, Tench Tilghman Elementary, Booker T. Washington Middle and Winston Middle schools.

Participating Baltimore County schools are Cedarmere Elementary, Lansdowne Elementary, General John Stricker Middle and Lansdowne High schools.

The three private schools are Gilman Lower School and the Bryn Mawr and the Seton Keough High School.

"This is an affirmation of everything that those of us who have been teaching music have always known: Children learn better through singing, dancing, music, the arts," said Marge Penhallegon, a music specialist for Baltimore County public schools.

The program was designed by New York education specialist Mitchel Korn, who has developed similar efforts for the Bushnell Memorial Hall (a theater in Hartford, Conn.) and the Milwaukee Symphony.

Under ArtsExcel, specially trained teachers will weave lessons that use the arts as an educational tool throughout the daily curriculum. Symphony musicians, also with special training, will work with the teachers in school.

Meanwhile, the symphony will continue presenting educational performances but will better correlate them with what's being taught in all the schools, said Linda Hambleton Panitz, the BSO board member who heads the symphony's education committee.

The project will cost $40,000 to $50,000 annually for each school, said John Gidwitz, executive director for the BSO.

The E. J. Logan Foundation and the Helen P. Denit fund of the Baltimore Community Foundation have provided $152,000 for the current year, to be spent developing the curriculum, said Mr. Gidwitz.

In addition, the state Department of Education has agreed to contribute to the effort, he said, adding that symphony officials expect the rest of the amount needed to come from "the schools, foundations and corporations and the private sector, too."

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