White House's 'Turnaround Arts' reaches Brooklyn schools

Science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, classes are at the forefront of educators' agendas across the nation, but there is a push in Brooklyn to introduce more creative classes.

This year, New York City will join the White House's Turnaround Arts initiative, which started in 2011 to help struggling schools succeed through arts education.

The program currently reaches more than 22,000 students in 49 schools in 14 states. New York City will join that roster in the fall with four Brooklyn schools.

Students at the East Flatbush Community Research School on Winthrop Street will be introduced to new singing, dancing and performing arts classes. Teachers and students believe those classes may be essential in helping students stay focused.

"Some of the students, they feel bored," says eighth-grader Xandre Higgins. "They say they always need new activities, so if this activity program comes in, it will be more interesting to other students so they get to do new things."

Celebrities will help with the initiative. Actor Edward Norton plans to visit the East Flatbush school to help kick off the program in the fall.

Other participating Brooklyn schools include Ebbets Field Middle School in Crown Heights, where singer Marc Anthony will visit; P.S. 284: The Lew Wallace School in Brownsville, where ballet dancer and author Misty Copeland will help mentor students; and P.S. 165: Ida Posner in Brownsville, where Paula Abdul will visit.

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