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D.C.'s Savoy School Picked For President's Arts Program

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A D.C. public school is becoming one of only eight in the country to receive funding for a lucrative arts program through the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. The committee announced yesterday that Savoy Elementary in Southeast D.C. has been selected for the lucrative Turnaround: Arts initiative. 

It's a two-year pilot project where schools in high-poverty areas with historically low test scores are selected to take part in a program that provides intense music, dance and fine arts training.

"We know this will mean an enormous amount for our kids and our community," says school princinpal Patrick Pope. "There's an enormous amount of spotlight being shown on us."

If Pope's name sounds familiar, that's because the spotlight was on him in 2009 during the educational reform era of former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Back then, Pope was principal at Hardy Middle School in Georgetown, where he led a popular arts program. When Rhee replaced him with another principal, the decision was met with protests from both parents and students. 

Fast-forward two years, and Pope is now settled in to his new office at Savoy, in Anacostia. It s a position he's held for one year. With no mention of the past, he looks forward to making his mark at Savoy. 

"We are looking at music labs, music instruments, music instruction for all students, as well as bringing in practitioners, arts educators to come and really work directly and teach our children," Pope says. 

All schools chosen for the project are paired with a professional mentor. Actress Kerry Washington, who plays a high-powered D.C. publicist in the new T.V. drama Scandal, has been assigned to Savoy. 

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