As a performing and visual arts magnet school, Wiley H. Bates Middle School often draws attention from many people in and out of the school system. Recently, the College Board became the latest outside group to notice the school’s unique and fully integrated arts program, and rewarded those efforts when it selected Bates as a $5,000 Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts recipient.

“The selection committee was immensely impressed with the demonstrated gains in academic performance and student engagement that have been achieved since implementing the “Get SmArt through Art” program,” College Board Assistant Director Sarah Balistreri wrote in a congratulatory letter to the school.

Bates Middle School became the county’s first fully arts-integrated school as well as a magnet school for the visual and performing arts five years ago. This combined approach was designed to involve all students in the arts and raise student engagement, commitment, and achievement.

“It has succeeded on all accounts and has become a model for using arts integration in the teaching/learning process as schools across the country have come to observe,” said Bates Middle School principal Paul DeRoo. “Both students and teachers have become more positive and engaged in teaching, learning, and in developing creative and critical-thinking skills.”

The grant money will be used toward growth and continuation of that program.