JCPS students credit music program for turnaround at troubled school


by Renee Murphy

Posted on May 30, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 5 at 10:37 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Wednesday marked the last day of school for Jefferson County Public Schools students, and for some students the year has taken a significant turn for the better.

For many of the students at Olmsted North Academy private music lessons are out of the question.

“When i first started music it was a new thing in my life. I felt I was ready to do it. I was real interested,” William Thorton a student at Olmsted said.

The band director at Olmsted North is not only teaching these kids the notes to a song, but lessons that can keep them on the right path in life.

“I think the arts are making a big difference in our school communities and Olmsted is proof of that. To see these students come in with no confidence and finding an outlet for themselves express how they feel through the music,” band director Joseph Stivers said.

More than 90 percent of the students at Olmsted are on free and reduced lunch.

“To see an at risk population to take to music so well,” Stivers said.

Parents and teachers said middle school is a crucial age for kids. It's when they decide if they are going to fall victim to their surroundings or make something of their lives.

“I was kind of nervous about Michael coming to an all boy school with the neighborhood and not sure about it. But I’m really glad that I did. I don't think I would have made a better choice anywhere else,” Kathey Seay, who’s son attends Olmsted, said.

Olmsted used to be the old Southern Leadership Academy. Plagued by low test scores and academic achievement, the school changed names in 2008 and became an all boy school.

School leaders here said the difference is obvious - they said you can hear it.