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Orchard Gardens K-8 school in Roxbury picked for US arts initiative

The Orchard Gardens K-8 pilot school in Roxbury has been selected to take part in a federal education initiative designed to help turn around schools through the arts, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities announced today.

The school will be one of eight nationwide to take part in the Turnaround Arts program, a public-private partnership that hopes to “test the hypothesis that high-quality and integrated arts education boosts academic achievement, motivates student learning, and improves school culture in the context of overall school reform,” according to the committee’s website.

Andrew Bott, the school’s principal, said he was honored to be one of the schools across the country selected for the initiative.


“We have a pretty robust arts program to begin with,” Bott said in an interview. “I see this partnership allowing us to really start deepening what we offer. I see this as an opportunity to prove that school turnaround not only works but has a long-term success and long-term viability.”

He added in an earlier statement that “despite poverty, continual staff turnover and complicated issues at home, these kids want a place to focus and learn. They deserve to have music, art and theater available to them,’’ he said.

George Stevens Jr., co-chairman of the President’s Committee, said: “Mr. Bott has already made the arts central to progress at Orchard Gardens. We look forward to supporting his continuing efforts to transform the school into a creative and high performing place for children to learn.”

Between its opening in 2003 and 2010, Orchard Gardens was one of the lowest-performing schools in Massachusetts on standardized tests. The school was led by six different principals in seven years and had a teacher turnover rate greater than 50 percent each year, according to the school’s website.

In February, a group of first-graders from the pilot school garnered national attention when they visited the White House to perform Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech for President Obama after a similar performance impressed Governor Deval Patrick.


Colin A. Young can be reached at colin.young@globe.com.