Program Brings Arts, Orchestra Music to South Dallas Students

A new program within the Dallas Independent School District is aimed at sparking creativity and success in the classroom.

At Dunbar Elementary School in southern Dallas, fourth graders are now dancing, singing, sculpting, cooking and learning how to play instruments after school as part of the Center for a New Generation through a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Dallas.

A few weeks ago, fourth grader Mariah Hickman had never heard of the viola. Now, she is playing it.

"The thing I like is that whenever you pluck a string, it makes a beautiful sound," she said. "I think that's my passion now, because I think I'm great at playing the instrument."

"I was nervous at first, but then I started liking it." fourth grader Semajdre Gassway said of the cello. "I'm going to try and get in the band when I'm in college or high school."

The program — founded by Dr. Condoleezza Rice — keeps the activities at the child's school and provides stability by having the same instructors throughout the year. After the school day ends, the students divide into groups and spend one hour focused on their studies and homework and another hour focused on a creative activity.

"These are the formative years," said Tracey McConduit, who oversees the program within the Dallas ISD. "If you can get them interested and peak something in them at this time it's likely to carry with them."

The program plans to track the children participating in the program to monitor it's success.

Online: Center for a New Generation

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