Meridian Star


October 23, 2013

West Lauderdale ES receives Elevate the Arts School Grant

MERIDIAN —     Thirteen has proven to be a lucky number for students at West Lauderdale Elementary School.

    West Lauderdale is one 13 elementary schools nationwide – and the only school in Mississippi – selected to receive an Elevate the Arts School Grant from American Girl. A total of $45,000 grants will be awarded.

    The grant contest, sponsored by American Girl, in partnership with Americans for the Arts, was inspired by American Girl’s 2013 Girl of the Year, Saige, an imaginative and spirited girl who turns her passions into action to save the arts at her school. WLES students in the 2012-13 third grade classes of Teresa Davis and Karen Williams, participated in the project.

    A grand prize winner, second and third place and 10 runner-ups were chosen to receive grants. West Lauderdale is a runner-up winner and will receive $2,500, which will be presented during a morning assembly Thursday at the school.

    "The third grade students involved in the grant last year will be brought to the foyer during the assembly and presented the check, as well as certificates from American Girl," said Mandy Goldman, who serves as Mississippi Arts Commission project director for WLES.

    West Lauderdale Elementary School is a participant of the Mississippi Arts Commission's Whole School Initiative Arts Integration and Arts Education. The Elevate the Arts School Grant will be used to purchase art supplies, prints and books for students to conduct research and do art projects, Goldman said.

    The winning elementary schools are:

    • $10,000 Grand Prize Winner: Kerr Vance Academy, Henderson, North Carolina

    • $5,000 Second Place Winner-Columbia Elementary School, Brooklyn, Michigan

    • $5,000 Third Place Winner-Conant Elementary School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

    $2,500 Runner-Up Winners are:

    • Dutton Christian School, Caledonia, Mich.

    • Patton Elementary School, Austin, Texas

    • Pike Christian Academy, Waverly, Ohio

    • Pinellas Preparatory Academy, Largo, Fla.

    • St. Maria Goretti School, Madison, Wisc.

    • St. Mary of the Lake School, Chicago, Ill.

    • St. Stephen’s Academy, Beaverton, ore.

    • West Hollywood Elementary, West Hollywood, Calif.

    • West Lauderdale Elementary, Meridian

    • Willow Springs Elementary School, Willow Springs, N.C.

    The grants contest, which ran from Jan. 1-May 31, asked elementary art teachers and their students to creatively illustrate, both visually and verbally, the importance of having art in their schools. Each entrant was required to submit a 500-word essay conveying why art matters, along with an artwork piece that incorporated a hot-air balloon in some way to tie to Saige’s story. A judging panel comprised of representatives from American Girl and Americans for the Arts selected the top 13 winners on the basis of three criteria: effort, artistic merit, and effective expression of the theme.

    “The Elevate the Arts School Grant Contest was our way of helping shine a light on a very real issue facing many schools today — the reduction or loss of funding for their arts programming,” said Jean McKenzie, executive vice president of American Girl.

    “As we reviewed the entries, it was clear that having arts in school was of vital importance to the teachers and students who participated in the contest. We were truly inspired by their hard work, creativity, and commitment to making their world — and the world around them — a better place through art,” McKenzie said.

    To read more about the contest and see the top three prize winners’ artwork pieces and a list of the other winners, visit

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