Putnam City Schools to be Honored for Leadership in the Arts

01.17.2018 8:15 AM

Putnam City Schools is one of five organizations and 14 individuals that will be honored for their contributions to the arts during the 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The awards will be presented during a special ceremony beginning at 4 p.m. in the fourth floor rotunda at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

The district will receive an Arts in Education Award, which recognizes a school, organization, group, educator or other individual for outstanding leadership and service in the arts benefiting youth and/or arts in education.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples cited the impact of the awards on generating support for arts programs in communities and schools across Oklahoma.

“Through honoring the efforts of generous and devoted volunteers, professionals, businesses, educators, and others, we offer a small but meaningful acknowledgment about the importance of the many actors required to empower the arts to thrive. The selection committee felt strongly that these honorees warrant our gratitude.”

Recipients are selected from submitted nominations by the Governor’s Arts Awards Selection Committee, comprised of members of the Governor-appointed Oklahoma Arts Council board.

District Superintendent Dr. Fred Rhodes, whose own interest in the arts has three times landed him on stage performing with high school choirs, is proud of Putnam City’s arts program.

“Our students and parents love the arts opportunities here. We have an orchestra program in which 4th- and 5th-grade students in every elementary school can learn to play the violin or other stringed instruments. Earlier this year we had group of 24 students from one of our high schools that was one of just three high school percussion ensembles to perform at the prestigious Percussive Arts Society International Convention. The governor chose a high school band to perform in the 4th of July parade in Washington D.C. this year. We’ve had students perform in Carnegie Hall in the past, and later this year we’ll have that happen again. In April, the district will hold its first-ever Shakespeare in the Park festival. Our students leave here on arts scholarships to college and some even go on to professional careers in various arts fields. For students interested in the arts, there are so many wonderful possibilities here,” Rhodes says.

Putnam City supports and invests in both art and music programs with full-time teachers at all 18 elementary schools. In the five middle schools, Putnam City provides art, vocal music, orchestra, band, theatre and ceramics to all students. Students in the district’s three high schools have the opportunity to choose from over 30 arts options ranging from the visual arts, show choir, orchestra and band. Each high school also supports major musicals and performances for both the school community and the broader community. More than 5,000 middle school and high school students take part in arts programs in the district.

The district arts festival is held each year in May and is in its 38th year. The colorful festival brings together arts performances and visual arts from elementary school through high schools along with art-making experiences for children and adults who visit the festival. Art teachers from Putnam City each fall put on an “Art Specialist” visual arts exhibit. This show is open to the public and is for Putnam City community members to view and enjoy art created by Putnam City’s teaching artists. The district’s school board declares each March as Youth Arts Month in Putnam City. To celebrate, artwork created by district students is displayed at the State Department of Education and in local libraries throughout the community.

The district is also home to “The Silver Strings of Putnam City,” a well-known orchestra that volunteers its talent to the community by performing for hospitals, senior citizen centers, civic organizations and banquets. The group – comprised of students from all three district high schools -- is the state’s only strolling orchestra in which musicians walk through the audience while performing. The group has been invited to perform in London for New Year’s celebrations in 2020.

“The Putnam City School district is dedicated to the success of all students and believes the arts are an integral part of a well-rounded educational experience. Our 99 fine arts teachers are experts in their fields who truly care about helping each child grow both artistically and as an individual. The fine arts teachers are passionate about showcasing the accomplishments of their students. Each week in Putnam City you'll find a teacher exhibiting student work, hosting a play or concert, and encouraging the creativity of our students,” says Brandy Sitts, NBCT, the district’s fine arts and gifted services coordinator.

In 2010 the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced that Putnam City Schools received the 22nd annual Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network and National School Boards Association Award. The district was singled out from nominees around the country for their outstanding support of high-quality arts education.

To learn more about Putnam City’s fine arts programs, visit http://pcfinearts.weebly.com