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July 12, 2024


GREENFIELD — Turnaround Arts mentor and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith visited with Greenfield students from Mary Chapa Academy last week as part of the national program that infuses the arts into struggling schools.

The 55-year-old rocker, wearing jeans and a David Bowie T-shirt, spent the day moving from classroom to classroom to interact with the elementary students and learn about the activities that they are studying — from generating rhythms in music class to harvesting vegetables in the school’s garden, which also features a new recycled glass mural created by the students.

And, by request, he even autographed — in red — the school’s music mural.

Smith’s visit on June 5 marks the school’s third and final year in the Turnaround Arts program. Over the course of the three-year partnership, the program has worked closely with school staff to “help build arts education programming that is rigorous, effective and integrated holistically into the culture of the school.”

Mary Chapa Academy has seen rising scores on state assessments since joining the program in 2014.

As one of 17 partner schools in California, Mary Chapa Academy receives arts education services and resources designed to increase opportunities for success. This includes art supplies, musical education materials, licensing rights and kits for school musicals, instructional resources, professional learning facilitated by leaders in the field and high-profile Turnaround Artists, such as Smith, who work with the students and teachers.

A total of 73 schools nationwide participate in the Turnaround Arts program.