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News Story
Updated: 05/07/2014 09:30:03AM

Time for Rock

and Roll

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PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ


James Harris speaks to the students.

PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ


Mark Galbo, founder of Rock and Roll Academy, shares an inspirational moment with students. One thing he said at last week's gathering is that if students want to do something great, they cannot wait until they have no fear, they need to move forward in their passion and take charge of what it is they want to do.

PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ


All hands in the air! Everyone wanted a chance to sing at the microphone, and several did, with their classmates cheering them on ecstaticly.

PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ


Students were encouraged to take out their cell phones and take photos and selfies at the event.

PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ


This young lady is about to get a chance to sing.

PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ


Is there a Cheer Club at McLaughlin? If so, these girls might be it. Here, Zahria Howard, Ursula Ponaloza and Kryslin Ramirez show their enthusiasm for the singers on stage.

PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ


Xaria Lopez drew wows from the crowd with her song, and everyone cheered loudly for her. Here, she stops for a photo with Assistant Polk County Schools Superintendent Kenneth Reddick, who told her that someday when she is famous for that voice of hers, to please invite him to a concert.

PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ


Mark Galbo takes a video of Xaria Lopez, who sang and mesmerized her classmates and teachers.

PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ


This young man showed his dance moves when students were encouraged to come up one last time and demonstrate leadership by bringing some form of music or expression.

PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ


Smiles were plentiful at last week's event at McLaughlin.

By KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ

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Boy, has school ever changed since the days of the ruler and the apple, and a “let’s all be quiet” approach.

The Polk County Public School District is rolling out, or “rock and rolling” out, that is, a whole new thing in education.

Partnering with Usher’s New Look, a nonprofit organization committed to developing global youth leaders founded by Usher Raymond IV, the school system seeks to bring two cutting edge music education programs to McLaughlin Middle School and Fine Arts Academy.

Mark Galbo, founder of Rock ‘n’ Roll Academy, based in Colorado, was present with James Harris, Atlanta program coordinator for Usher’s New Look, at McLaughlin last Thursday and Friday, as the school “ushered” in the new program.

The event started with students batting large beach balls above them, and progressed to lessons about branding, taking charge, being willing to face your fear, and networking, among other things.

“Now we are coming together as a network,” said Harris, who mingled with students and sang positive messages.

Students were encouraged to bring songs, dance, and other forms of expression, such as poetry, in participation.

Everyone was permitted to take “selfies” and photos of the program, another way to engage the children.

Galbo told students that “courage is not the lack of fear, but it is taking action in the face of fear,” noting that he moved around a lot as a child and likewise got “picked on” as well.

Students were taught to remember the four letters: TECS, or “Talent, Education, Career, Service.”

School officials say the courses will begin this fall.

New Look introduced Music Industry Leadership 101, a course that blends leadership and music, giving high school students exposure to more than 30 possible career pathways in the music and marketing industry.

According to promotional literature, “Music Industry Leadership 101 is under review as a full credit-earning course for high school students in several states developed in partnership with Beanstalk Innovation. The pilot program, which launched earlier this month, will reach more than 2,000 students around the country. The program offered through the Rock ‘n’ Roll Academy places students in charge of their own education by allowing participants to explore Social Emotional Learning as they form authentic student bands. Both programs empower youth to be autonomous and responsible members of their local and global communities.”

Superintendent of Schools Kathryn M. LeRoy, who was present at the rollout event Thursday, said that Polk County Public Schools considers this “an opportunity to partner with these extraordinary organizations to be an incredible gift.

“This will give our students a chance to tap into their musical talents and to learn to become good stewards of our local and global communities. We look forward to seeing the great things that lie ahead as our partnerships with Usher’s New Look and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Academy continues to blossom.”

According to a press release issued by the district, parents of McLaughlin Middle School and Fine Arts Academy students (enrolled in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade), as well as all other students zoned for McLaughlin are asked to contact the school for more information about Music Industry Leadership 101 and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Academy by calling 863-678-4233.

“Please ask for Sharon Chipman, Madalyn Hilliard, or Julie Fisher,” officials note.

The district literature notes that arts education enhances learning by developing cognitive and critical thinking skill sets that are also used in mastering math and reading skills. An education in arts encourages high achievement and encourages a suppleness of mind, toleration for ambiguity, a taste for nuance, and the ability to make trade-offs among alternative courses of action.

For more information about arts education programs offered in Polk County Public Schools, contact Beth Cummings, Acting Director of Fine Arts, Polk County Public Schools, 863-647-4729, beth.cummings@polk-fl.net.


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