DMPS Turnaround Arts Students Star in “Love Train” Video

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts program, Turnaround Arts, infuses schools with the arts as a strategy to help close the opportunity gap and provide equitable access to arts and music education.

Turnaround Arts premieres a music video project featuring 25 students from Harding Middle School along with Cattell, Findley, Madison, and Oak Park elementary schools singing and dancing alongside their artist mentor, DJ IZ Avila. This new rendition of “Love Train” by The O’Jays showcases the power of the arts and music to help lift up students and schools, contributing to overall success.

View the video above or on YouTube or Facebook.  

Des Moines students join thousands of their Turnaround Arts peers from across America and more than two dozen Turnaround Artists mentors: Paula Abdul, IZ Avila, Elizabeth Banks, Jackson Browne, Carla Dirlikov Canales, Misty Copeland, John Cruz, Claudia Eliaza, Paula Fuga, Frank Gehry, Valerie June, Ledisi, Yo-Yo Ma, Larisa Martinez, Keb’ Mo’, Jason Mraz, Ozomatli, Taboo, Tracy Reese, Tim Robbins, Jake Shimabukuro, Trombone Shorty, Chad Smith, Speech, Jacqueline Suskin, The O’Jays, Black Violin, Bernie Williams, Alfre Woodard, Dan Zanes, and John Lloyd Young and more in this Turnaround Arts music video, produced by Playing for Change.

Turnaround Arts, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, empowers struggling schools with innovative arts, dance, theater and music programs, arts integration across subject areas, arts resources, musical instruments, and high-profile artist mentors, as a proven strategy to help address broader school challenges and close the opportunity gap. Harding, Cattell, Findley, Madison, and Oak Park are 5 of 84 Turnaround Arts schools across the country.

“The arts are an essential component of a well-rounded education and programs like Turnaround Arts offer our students an avenue to build community through the arts whilst simultaneously developing creative, collaborative, and critical problem-solving skills,” noted Ben Heinen, visual arts curriculum coordinator at Des Moines Public Schools and the local program coordinator for Turnaround Art. 

Findley Elementary School joined this signature program in 2012 as one of 8 pilot schools nationwide. Following the initial success at Findley, four more DMPS schools – Harding, Cattell, Madison, and Oak Park – joined the program in 2014. Since becoming a Turnaround Arts site, Harding, Cattell, Findley, Madison, and Oak Park have expanded arts and music programs, produced yearly musicals, engaged local arts organizations in dozens of community engagement events, and worked to integrate the arts into core content classroom instruction. In that time, these schools have seen an increase in daily attendance rates, decreased suspensions, and improved academic growth. Students from the schools recently performed at the Turnaround Arts Talent Show on stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

The program’s success is leading to another expansion of the program at the start of the 2018-19 school year which will include Moulton Elementary School in Des Moines.

Nationally, Turnaround Arts is made possible by the National Endowment of the Arts and a collaboration of government agencies, non-profit partners, and generous corporate and private donations.