Grant

Baldwin High students rehearse for their spring musical ‘Big Fish’ that they brought to the stage back in March. A grant recently received by Baldwin High and Oak Hill Middle School will help bolster fine arts offerings in the local public school system.

Grant funding continues to roll in to the Baldwin County School District (BCSD).

This time around, it will be the public school system’s middle and high school fine arts programs that will benefit from $10,000. BCSD announced Monday that it is one of 19 districts to receive the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) “stART” grants, meant to create or expand fine arts offerings in some of the state’s more rural school districts like Baldwin County. 

“We are very excited to use these funds to build upon the incredible success that we have already experienced with our fine arts program,” said Superintendent Dr. Noris Price.  “We know how important the arts are toward providing a well-rounded education.”

In total, 27 $10,000 stART grants were awarded to rural districts around the state, most of which are in central or south Georgia. Washington County’s TJ Elder Middle School and Laurens County’s Southwest Laurens Elementary School are also among the 27 recipients. 

Schools selected to receive the grant funding are directed to either create or expand their fine arts opportunities for their student populations. In Baldwin County’s case, the $10,000 will be used to bolster what is already a strong fine arts program featuring theater, band, visual arts and dance classes to kids at multiple levels. The local public school system has also been selected multiple times as a National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Best Communities in Music Education award recipient in recent years.

The BCSD says the funds will be targeted towards visual arts classes at Baldwin High and Oak Hill. Cameras are being purchased so students can get exposure to photography and the already popular artist-in-residence programs will be expanded. 

“We know that the fine arts provide significant academic and non-academic benefits for all students,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a GaDOE press release. “Arts education helps children develop language and fine-motor skills. It keeps them engaged in their education. It equips them with the creativity, ingenuity, and resilience needed to succeed in the modern workforce. At the Georgia Department of Education we are committed to providing the resources necessary to provide fine arts opportunities to all students.”

This now marks the second year GaDOE has handed out stART grants with the first coming last year when 20 school districts received the award. Per the state, more than 18,000 students benefited from the grant funding. This fairly new funding effort is made possible through federal funding handed down to the state level. GaDOE says it has worked to expand fine arts instruction in recent years by hiring a full-time arts specialist at the state level, creating new virtual fine arts courses, updating standards and other ways to ensure the state’s students have access to that well-rounded education Dr. Price mentioned in her statement. 

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