Thursday, January 15, 2009

Little Urban Artists Represent the South

With the Presidential inauguration just a few days away, I am quite pleased (and a little smug) to hear that the kids from Ron Clark Academy will be performing at four of the inaugural balls on Tuesday. At one of the balls, one of the students will share the stage with Usher (who is one of our fellow Southerners--born in Dallas, TX, but raised in Atlanta) and Patti La Belle. If you have not seen the kids performing "Vote However U Like," which is a play on T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" (T.I. is also a Native Atlantan), please go and watch it NOW: These little darlings made my eyes tear up every time I watched them perform and/or speak; I was on Obama overload, wrapped up in the idea of history in the making, watching Oprah cry on a stranger's shoulder, and these boys just made my heart weep with sentiment. These kids make me want to have kids. And that never happens. Ever.

Located in Southeast Atlanta, near Turner Field

Reason # 6 for Why I love the Dirty South: Ron Clark Academy: Ron Clark Academy was founded in 2007 by Ron Clark, who was made famous by Oprah after winning Disney's American Teacher of the Year in 2001. Located in Southeast Atlanta, Ron Clark Academy is an inner-city school, a former awning and tent factory transformed to an independent school for fifth through eight graders. The school incorporates teaching methods that were proven to be successful in other schools including Harlem. The private school was an idea that both Ron Clark and Kim Bearden (Cobb County teacher recipient of a national Disney Award) conjured specifically for at-risk kids in Metro Atlanta.

In December 2008, Oprah donated $365,000 to the school, $1000 for each day of the year, she said. After hearing of the check, sixth and seventh grade students had their "Dear Obama" song recorded by Imagemasters. The song addresses issues/topics that the students believe Obama should address during his Presidency, including bringing our troops home and "stand[ing]up tall for the middle class;" the song was written as a follow-up to their first performance (which was aired on ABC's Good Morning America, CNN, and BET).The kids will be fitted for tuxedos and ballgowns. Be prepared to have your heart swell with pride.

These little munchkins are heart breakers (or heart throbs?)

Ron Clark Academy's philosophy: "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Ralph Waldo Emerson. You can support the academy by visiting:

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