In March 2019, 28 sixth grade students from Woodford Paideia Academy embarked on a journey that exposed them to art from around the globe, music of historical relevance, and southern culture’s relevance to African American History.
Arts & Culture are core focus areas at Woodford Paideia Academy, an elementary school on Cincinnati’s east side. In 2019, the school administrators, including Activities Beyond the Classroom Resource Coordinator Felicia Anderson and Principal Ross Turpeau, designed a unique Arts and Cultural experience for their graduating sixth-grade class. The trip gave students the opportunity to learn about arts & culture by exploring Nashville, Tennessee, the music capital of America. During the trip, students also toured three Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU’s), including Kentucky State University (Frankfort, KY), Tennessee State University (Nashville, TN) and Fisk University (Nashville, TN).
Woodford Paideia Academy teaches students about arts and culture inside the classroom year-round. The trip to Nashville gave the students an up-close and personal view of art installations, historical relics, and culturally significant parks and structures. “We feel that it is important for students to experience art and culture in addition to learning about it in the classroom environment,” said Felicia Anderson, Resource Coordinator.
Ms. Anderson and Principal Turpeau worked diligently to ensure that all students could afford to attend; making the trip part of their curriculum meant that a portion of the trip could be paid for through the school’s annual budget. Anderson, a graduate of Fisk University (one of the HBCUs the students toured), knew from her experience that Nashville was the perfect place to allow students to learn about their African American heritage and the contributions that African Americans have made in the areas of education, arts, civil rights, and politics.
As part of the hands-on experience, the trip encouraged the students to start thinking about their future. Sixth grade is a critical time for children who attend Cincinnati Public Schools to begin planning their post-secondary education.
In CPS, students transition directly from the elementary school environment to the high school environment following their sixth-grade year. Students and their families get to select the high school they will attend, and many of those choices are based upon the future direction the students wish to take after high school.
During the first leg of their trip, students made a stop in Frankfort, Kentucky where they visited Kentucky State University, a public HBCU. There, students got to explore KSU’s campus and learn about educational opportunities well within their reach and just a few hundred miles from home. When asked why she felt it was important to take the students on such a trip, Anderson said, “We wanted the students to know that as long as they continue to work hard and apply themselves, there is no limit to where they can go.”
A few hours after departing Kentucky State University, students arrived in Nashville, Tennessee where they visited various culturally important sites and explored the city’s rich history. One such place was Tennessee State University, a public university and HBCU. The students were shown around the vast and beautiful campus, checking out what life is like for a student at the University.
Skylar, one of the students who attended the 2019 Arts & Culture Trip, indicated that before the trip she had set a goal to attend UCLA when she graduates from high school. However, after visiting the three HBCUs, she has since changed her mind, and now has the goal to attend Tennessee State University. One of the factors that led to her change of heart is the academic support offered through TSU’s free tutoring program.
Skylar is a straight-A student who plans to attend Walnut Hills High School in the fall of 2019-2020. She has set a goal for herself to get a “full ride” scholarship to eliminate the cost of her higher education. Skylar comes from a large family, she is one of six children and does not want to place any financial burden on her parents. She hopes to become an anesthesiologist when she grows up.
The final leg of the trip included a stop at Fisk University, one of the oldest HBCUs in the country, and Nashville’s oldest institution of higher education. Students got to burn off some energy while at Fisk University; the students toured Fisk’s campus in small groups while competing in a scavenger hunt. During the hunt, students were tasked with finding various buildings on campus and learning about the historical figures for which the buildings were named. One of the stops during the tour was the Van Vecton Art Gallery, home to an original Pablo Picasso painting. They also visited the John Hope Frankin Library which includes an art gallery and historic relics.
Many of the small group tours at Fisk University were led by members of the legendary Fisk Jubilee Singers. The Fisk Jubilee Singers are a world-renowned group of vocal singers and students at the University. The singing group formed initially in 1871 to help generate funds for Fisk University during Reconstruction (Source). Since its inception, the group has traveled the world performing for key political figures and dignitaries. Naturally, the Fisk tour concluded at Jubilee Hall, where students were treated to brief ensemble performed by a few of the Jubilee Singers.
In addition to visiting the schools, students also toured Centennial Park while they were in Nashville. There they toured The Parthenon, a life-size replica of Athens, Greece’s architectural marvel. When the students were not busy learning about Nashville’s rich artistic roots, they got to visit Dave & Busters where they participated in team-building activities.
Jason, another 6th grader at Woodford Paideia Academy said that the best part of the trip for him was “getting to know my other classmates outside of school!” Jason will be attending Withrow University High School in the fall, and afterward, his goal is to attend Fisk for his post-secondary education. He liked Fisk’s smaller campus size, where he feels “it will be easier to get to know everybody.” Although Jason plans to pursue a degree in Engineering, with his charismatic attitude, it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up running for public office someday!
Activities Beyond the Classroom employs 8 Resources Coordinators who work in 7 CPS elementary schools and one high school. Our Resource Coordinators work day-in and day-out to enrich the educational experience for students at the schools they serve. Thanks to their efforts, students are given learning opportunities that far exceed the walls of the school building. We are proud to partner with CPS and expand learning beyond the classroom. We truly seek to enrich every child, and ensure every opportunity.