Posted Date: 06/30/2022
More than 200 students from six area schools and two districts, including students from Ellen Ochoa Elementary - A Community School and McAuliffe Elementary - A Community School, came together for a community celebration at the Guthrie Green in downtown Tulsa on Thursday, June 30.
Lisa Shotts, executive director of The Gaining Ground, said students had been working hard for the past month in enrichment classes that focused on art and how art benefits the community.
Today's event was the culminating activity as students showed off art pieces they had created specifically for the show and their skills as singers and dancers. Union Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler was among the many visitors who checked out the celebration.
All in all, there was a student art show, live music from Hot Toast Music, a hip-hop performance from the Hurd Studio performers, and an all-six school, 200-plus student "flash mob" style hip-hop dance.
Ellen Ochoa students sang a few songs before the crowd, and McAuliffe and Ochoa enjoyed the chance to show others their artwork, before they enjoyed cookies and a lunch.
Principal Jennifer McKnight said some 70 students alone came from McAuliffe, but the contingent from Ellen Ochoa was nearly as big. McKnight noted that fifth graders often don't participate in summer school activities but this year was an excepti at her schoolon. In addition, she said several teachers said they enjoyed the summer classes so much that they are already looking forward to next summer.
Gaining Ground is a grassroots literacy non-profit created by educators that recognized the inequities in access to engaging books and literacy supports for children living in economically disadvantaged areas. Gaining Ground has developed a research-based approach of providing access and choice to engaging books, after-school programming, and summer literacy camps. Many students, the most vulnerable, who struggle to read effectively fall behind their peers. For these students, summer means losing ground. They return to school, having fallen farther behind, and face a steeper and steeper uphill battle until the road forward seems impossible. By the end of sixth grade, there is a three-year achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and students who are economically advantaged in schools. Gaining Ground provides children in under-served communities with support, encouragement, individualized instruction, project-based learning experiences, and access to high-interest, culturally responsive books that will reverse this negative cycle.