Thousands of Elementary School Students Participate in Pilot Field Trip Initiative

The Cathedral Arts Project, in partnership with Kids Hope Alliance (KHA), the Florida Theatre, Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, announced the launch of a pilot collaborative field trip program for elementary school students. The effort is meant to increase student interest and access to the arts.

Students attending a field trip in the historic Florida Theatre

“The very first step in improving access to arts education is piquing students’ interest in the arts,” said Kimberly L. Hyatt, CAP President & CEO. “We are excited to implement this research-backed initiative with a group of community partners who share CAP’s vision for Northeast Florida to lead the nation in providing essential and accessible arts education.”

CAP’s Landscape of Education in the Arts in Duval (LEAD) survey data shows the main priority in service of improving access to arts education for Jacksonville’s children is implementing a field trip initiative for all elementary school students. Through CAP’s work with the University of North Florida’s Data Science for Social Good program, data showed that even one field trip experience to a cultural destination like a museum or theatre drastically improves student grades in literacy, math and science.

Two students interact with touch screen at art museum

On June 20, 2023, approximately 2,300 elementary school students and chaperones from both public and charter schools attended a live performance at the historic Florida Theatre. The students attended the show Doug Berky’s Gems: The World’s Wisdom Stories. The performance introduced attendees to fables from cultures across the globe and included a literacy component. DCPS summer learning packets were distributed to students attending the event, which included reading materials to enhance the field trip experience.

“School field trips are not just play-time out of the classroom; they’re an opportunity to take what was learned in the classroom and see it brought to life in the real world,” said Numa Saisselin, president of the Florida Theatre. “That is especially true in a theatre setting. Whether it’s watching an acrobat apply the laws of science or a theatrical adaptation of a story told in a book, the impact on a student’s academic success is profound.”

Funding for this initiative is provided by PNC Foundation and the Dianne T. and Charles E. Rice Family Foundation. In addition, KHA and DCPS provided bus transportation for all participants.

“Exposing youth to the arts encourages creativity, opens pathways to expression and introduces a world beyond limitations,” said Kenneth Darity, chief programs officer with the Kids Hope Alliance.

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