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Roxbury 1st-graders to recite MLK speech for Obama at White House

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  February 27, 2012 02:43 PM

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(Boston Public Schools)

First graders from the Orchard Gardens school in Roxbury recite Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech for Governor Deval Patrick recently. The group will give a repeat performance tomorrow -- one day before Black History Month concludes – for President Barack Obama at the White House.

A group of first-graders from the Orchard Gardens K-8 pilot school in Roxbury plan to visit the White House tomorrow to perform Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech for President Barack Obama, city school officials said today.

OrchardatWhiteHouse3.jpg
(Boston Public Schools)
Students visit Gov. Patrick.
The trip was personally arranged by Governor Deval Patrick after he was impressed by the students when they recently recited the speech for him at the State House, according to a Boston Public Schools' weekly e-newsletter. The students’ teacher, Darlene White-Dottin, will accompany them to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Since it opened in 2003, Orchard Gardens has struggled as one of the lowest performing schools in the state. In its first seven years, the school was led by five different principals; its teacher turnover rate exceeded 50 percent and the school’s educators were primarily new to teaching.

But it was designated as one of a dozen turnaround schools in Boston at the start of the 2010 school year, the school has seen significant improvement through heavy recruitment for experienced teachers to replace about 80 percent of its previous staff, instructional changes and an expanded school day at a school where more than one-quarter of its 800 students are learning to speak English and the same percentage require personalized education plans to meet special needs.

After a first full year in the turnaround program, state-standardized MCAS test scores, while still low, improved dramatically from the year prior. In English, the portion of students in third through eighth grade who scored proficient or advanced this in spring 2011 compared to one year earlier jumped 10 percentage points to 30 percent, the Globe reported this past fall. The match scores in those categories climbed 16 percentage points to 35 percent.

To see the first-graders a rehearsing for a recital of the civil rights movement’s historic speech, click here.

To see a news segment about the planned White House trip from WCVB-TV Channel 5, click here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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OrchardatWhiteHouse.jpg

(Boston Public Schools)

First graders from the Orchard Gardens school in Roxbury pose with Gov. Deval Patrick during a recent State House visit.

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