Rapper Speech Celebrates Arts Learning at Harambee, State's Newest Turnaround Arts School

Harambee Elementary School is celebrating a new infusion of arts-based learning through Turnaround Arts, a national program from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and run by the Minnesota Department of Education. Harambee is a year-round K-6 elementary school in Maplewood, Minnesota, and part of the Roseville Area School District. The school is named after the Swahili word that means "working together for a common purpose."

On Friday, December 13, students at Harambee attended a lively assembly to welcome Speech, a dynamic rapper, musician and member of Grammy Award winning hip-hop group Arrested Development. Speech is a high-profile artist mentor working with the students around the country, and now brings his energy and expertise to Harambee.

Speech was joined by Turnaround Arts National Director Holly Bass, Minnesota Department of Education Assistant Commissioner Heather Mueller, and Roseville Superintendent Aldo Sicoli at the event. After performing a couple of songs for the students, Harambee students performed their own "house cheers," or celebratory songs and dances that have been written by students with their teachers that reflect their unique identities. 

Attendees of the assembly were surrounded by music and joy as students celebrated the unique climate of Harambee. 

"For me, it’s always been important to give back to let people know we’re here for you – we are rooting for you," Speech said. "Love is what really moves this world forward."

Harambee joins seven other Minnesota schools in partnering with Turnaround Arts to strategically implement arts-based learning as a strategy to help bolster overall school success. Harambee is focusing on increasing student learning and family engagement, through arts-based learning starting in year one. Since this partnership began, Minnesota schools in the program have demonstrated increased student learning, increased student and family engagement, and improved school culture and climate.

Turnaround Arts schools receive training to integrate the arts throughout the school day, art supplies, musical instruments, licenses to produce school musicals, a Turnaround Artist mentor, and much more as part of the program. Turnaround Arts works in 79 schools in 17 states and the District of Columbia that are facing some of the toughest challenges in the country. 

For more visit about Turnaround Arts, visit turnaroundarts.kennedy-center.org.