OUR VIEW: Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child a worthy endeavor

Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

 University of Southern Mississippi associate professor of dance Julie White teaches students at Poplar Springs Elementary School  Thursday. The activity was part of the Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child program, which seeks to integrate the arts into subjects such as math, science, and language arts. 

Here’s a bold question: can bringing artists, dancers and musicians into the Meridian Public School District really engage children, transforming them into more well-rounded students and better citizens?

The answer, we hope, is a resounding “yes.”

Arts integration, the concept of melding the arts into subjects such as math, science and language arts, is the foundation of a program called Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child. The idea is to build an arts education plan for students in grades K-8, and, in the long term, offer access and equity to arts education to all Meridian students.

The process began in 2016 when representatives from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts chose Meridian for the Any Given Child initiative. MSU Riley Center is serving as the lead arts organization for the initiative.

The result, gained through an emphasis on problem solving, teamwork, and creative and critical thinking skills, will be higher attendance, fewer discipline problems, and a rise in student achievement and teacher morale, according to Charlotte Tabereaux, the director of education at the MSU-Riley Center and the liaison for Any Given Child.

“Meridian is on the cusp of something big,” Tabereaux told The Meridian Star editorial board this week, adding that the arts have the power to “transform the city.”

Tabereaux is right – with the April opening of The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience on Front Street, and eventually, the opening of the Mississippi Children’s Museum – Meridian on 22nd Avenue, The Queen City is poised to become a haven for creativity and artistic expression, meaning a better quality of life for all of its residents.

We share the enthusiasm surrounding the Any Given Child initiative, and hope you join us and other community members at its official launch from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30 at the MSU Riley Center. The event is free and open to the public.

There will be plenty of talent on display, with Meridian Public School District students showing off their art in the grand lobby, followed by selections from the choir, band and drama club.

We hope to see you there, and look forward to witnessing the academic improvements the Any Given Child initiative promises.



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