ND Turnaround Arts students meet, create with famous artists

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STANDING ROCK, N.D. - Students from four North Dakota schools had world famous artists visit Tuesday for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It's part of a nation-wide initiative that stresses the importance of arts in the classroom.

The students are now the first Turnaround Arts students in the state, and it's not just a day-long event. It's a three-year experience that artists hope will stay with students forever.

Playing an instrument or singing a song are typical activities for students at Standing Rock Elementary. But performing alongside artist Dave Matthews, is a first.

Now that they're the first Turnaround Arts students in the state, they will be influenced by many other artists.

"The Midwest eyes are on us, and we can feel it. But we're ready to showcase the talent here," says Shawna Marion, Implementation Coordinator for Standing Rock Elementary and Middle Schools.

Standing Rock Middle School, Cannon Ball Elementary and Solen Middle School are the other schools involved. Matthews and the other artists are part of the three-year program's launch.

"Just to be part of maybe helping inspire them to see the greatness inside of each of them, you know. And maybe inspire them to be everything that they could be," says Dave Matthews, artist.

Artists participated in art activities and ate a traditional meal with students. They hope students develop relationships with their mentors and possibly discover an artistic talent of their own.

"The kids start off kind of tucked away in their shell. They're quiet they're hesitant, and it's just fun to see by the end of their time in their class, that it's just turned around," says Barb Sandstrom, Local Program Director, Turnaround Arts North Dakota.

The day ended with a performance by all five artists for the school community.

North Dakota is now the 15 state involved in Turnaround Arts. The program was started by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities