Bridging Divides Through Art And Theater
After a school consolidation, a Michigan school district reaches to the arts for help.
It happens everywhere in the U.S. Schools consolidate. And it happens for a variety of different reasons; the economy and cost-savings are usually major deciding factors.
When schools merge, there are pros like increased efficiency and more specialized instruction, but there can also be cons. One town is left without a school. Some have said the town loses a bit of their identity not to mention large, empty buildings.
The school consolidation trend did not skip over Albion and Marshall Schools in south central Michigan. In 2016, Marshall annexed Albion public schools; the process started in 2013.
The merger went fairly smooth but there were bumps along the road. The two towns have significant demographic differences. The hardest part of the merger was “coming together, getting to know one another, understanding the culture,” shared one Albion teacher.
The communities came together to bridge the divides and build a new school culture. And from that work, a new education program was born. The Franke Center’s Youth Theater Education Program gave all the students exposure to one another and to creative expression.
“When those kinds of things get exposed to the light of day, it recognizes that we are all the same,” shared Randy David, Superintendent of Schools.
As the education program grew more popular, they needed additional funds to reach all the interested students.
The director of the program heard about a crowdsourced grant program that connects individuals and communities with local non-profits to build safer, stronger, and smarter communities, State Farm Neighborhood Assist ® (SFNA).
And, in 2016, they won one of those 40 grants. The grant dollars went primarily to providing food and transportation for the summer programs. The results - reaching more students more often.
Together, the Franke Center education program and State Farm are providing Albion and Marshall youth with more opportunities to learn with and from each other.
Check out the SFNA website to find out if any causes won grants in your community – the 40 winners will be announced Sept. 28, 2017.
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