Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Playing on the Beat Teens Build a Musical Wonderland for Kids

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Playing on the Beat Teens Build a Musical Wonderland for Kids

Article excerpt

THOMASVILLE -- A just-finished addition to the playground

outside Thomasville's Scott Elementary School is truly music to

the ears.

Unlike playgrounds where the high-pitched whine of squeaky

swings and rusty, spinning merry-go-rounds cut irritably into

the air, the Musical Playscape tries to strike a harmonious

balance with nature.

Musical instruments made of pressure-treated lumber, aluminum

bars, galvanized steel and plastic piping are built into a

wooden deck shaped like a stop sign.

Kids can bang out notes on the instruments, with the most

ambitious among them welcome to work on a song or two.

But the brainchild of Georgian Bond Anderson is more than just

a novel concept or a kick for kids.

It also has offered teens no longer enrolled in Thomasville

schools a last chance to tune in on education.

Students in the Extended Alternatives for Learning through

Technology program either are dropouts trying to earn general

equivalency diplomas or kids kicked out of class for such

troubles as absenteeism.

After years of seeing projects end on a sour note, or not at

all, the kids this year were given an opportunity to cultivate

an upbeat attitude.

"We wanted to do something that would really challenge the

students, that they would have to make a commitment to

accomplish and take responsibility to complete," EXALT Director

Bill Jordan said.

That's also the idea behind EXALT, which started in January

with a $260,000 Georgia Department of Education grant.

The 12 students in the program don't go to campus classrooms.

Instead, they pore over their assignments with two teachers from

4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in a Sunday school

room. They complete the work at their own pace, using computers

at Thomasville's public library. …

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