Go inside Lincoln Middle School’s planned “fine arts academy” addition for Port Arthur students

Published 12:40 am Friday, May 26, 2023

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Abraham Lincoln Middle School is evolving.

Newly dubbed Abraham Lincoln Fine Arts Academy, the school is continuing to focus on academics while encouraging artistic excellence.

The 2023-24 school year is marked as a pilot year for the shift to a neighborhood-zoned magnet school. In addition to returning students, it will include students coming in from DeQueen Elementary, Port Acres Elementary and some of Sam Houston and Adams elementaries.

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Mollyn Cole, fine arts supervisor, said the school continues to focus on science, technology, engineering and math it is adding arts — or “STEAM.”

Pictured is the Lincoln Middle School Robotics Team. (Courtesy photo)

“We are trying to make certain students have every opportunity to be expressive, creative and successful,” Cole said.

There will be the same courses as before but courses will be elevated. Instead of just band, there will be multiple disciplines in band such as marching, jazz, mariachi and orchestra.

The same thought goes into dance; ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and musical theater. And theater will encompass musical theater, technical theater and One Act Play.

The Texas Education Agency outlines standards on what students are to learn in each grade level and in each course in what is called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS. Cole said the new fine arts direction is 100 percent aligned with TEKS objectives. Officials are taking the TEKS and expanding and elevating on them.
Adrienne Lott, director of communications services for Port Arthur Independent School District, said the concept came from wanting to enhance and enrich the idle school experience for the district’s artistically inclined tweens and teens.

“Students who are actively engaged in fine arts and are able to think outside the box to create music, dance, artwork, technology and are on track to become better critical thinkers,” Lott said.

“Having to recall what they do routinely in dance, music and band classes helps them better recall facts, figures and formulas when it’s time to quiz or test in core academic areas at the campus and state levels.”

Taping into the students’ talents and giving them a meaningful middle school experience allows them to fine tune and showcase their creativity, she said.

“This concept will also help us grow our fine arts programs across the board at the high school level, because the middle school creatives will continue to flourish in the arts throughout high school,” Lott said.

“If you recall the popular 1980s TV show, FAME, it was based off of a performing arts high school in New York.  We are bringing that idea to our middle school-level to give our students an outlet to grow academically and artistically.”

Abraham Lincoln Middle School students Lucia Acosta, Isabella Canales and Jamar Ragan are winners of the school’s Quasquincentennial Essay Contest. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Full implementation

Cole said full implementation of the program begins January 2024 to May 2025. There will be an application and formal audition process to select students to attend. It will be open to all Port Arthur middle school students, not just the ones in the attendance zone.

Students audition and declare a focus in one of seven strands of fine arts offered on campus.

The strands include visual arts, jazz band, dance mariachi, orchestra, theater arts and vocal music.

Advanced academics are also part of the program and includes honors, advanced placement on-ramps and dual credit.

With the new focus comes the need for more educators.

Cole said al industries took a hit with the pandemic in terms of staffing and the education field is no different.

District leaders are hoping use the city’s 125th birthday celebration as a beacon to attract educators who want to get in on the ground floor.