Increasing Student Attendance at North High School…Music To Our Ears

AmeriCorps members Lori and Alayna, who serve at North High School within Denver Public Schools, were both very excited to secure concert tickets from local Denver concert venues Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, The Marquis Theatre, and Summit Music Hall.

These places have donated tickets to give students on the AmeriCorps attendance caseload at North the opportunity to see some of the great live music that Denver has to offer! The tickets donated have been for a variety of music genres, ranging from punk rock, to hip hop, to reggae. The inspiration for this idea all stemmed from a particular student on Lori’s attendance caseload whose name is Nefi:

lori

“Nefi was particularly tough, because I saw so much potential in him but he was not coming to class or doing the work he needed to do in order to be successful at North. I could not figure out what would work for him specifically. When I brought Nefi up in a meeting with fellow AmeriCorps members, they asked if I knew any of his passions. I knew that he is an extremely talented musician; he plays both piano and jazz guitar, almost effortlessly. Another AmeriCorps member, Stephen, came up with the idea to get him concert tickets as an incentive to help get him to school. We were so inspired to make this idea a reality because so many of our students are passionate about music but may not have the funds to attend live music events. It seemed that offering free concert tickets for artists that our students love would be a great solution to our challenge of a lack of successful motivators. One type of music that Nefi loves is reggae, and he was able to earn tickets to a Bob Marley cover concert, reiterating the motivation that music provides for our students.”

-Lori Abramowitz, North High School AmeriCorps Member

Lori and Alayna use the concert tickets to motivate students to increase their attendance by a certain percentage on an individual basis. It has been great to see the impact these incentives have had on the students, especially for those like Aaron, who just seemed to need a little extra push:

alayna

“Towards the beginning of the year, I was really struggling to get through to a particular student on my caseload. One day as I was sitting with Aaron and his friends at lunch and I decided that I really needed to try to find a common ground between this particular student and myself.  I started asking Aaron about what kind of music he was into. He started listing off a few hip hop artists, so I mentioned to him that I really enjoy hip hop as well, and next thing I knew, we were chatting music for the rest of the lunch period.  It’s amazing how much music can bring people together because he really started opening up to me. Over the next couple weeks, I kept an eye out to see if any of his favorite artists were coming to Denver. Lucky for Aaron, Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom books some wonderful top-tier artists and we were able to get Wu Tang Clan tickets donated from the venue. As soon as Aaron got word that he may have the opportunity to go to this show if he improved his attendance, he started coming to school more and more. The week before the concert, he even got 100% attendance, which is something that hasn’t happened since the beginning of the school year. When I handed Aaron the tickets, he gave me a big hug and told me how excited he was to bring his brother to the concert. It was a moment that I’ll never forget because I know how much music has impacted my life and it was a feeling like none other to be able to pass that opportunity along to one of my students.”

-Alayna Shaw, North High School AmeriCorps Member

The venues have been very supportive and open to future partnerships. For example, over the next few months, Lori and Alayna are looking to expand upon an opportunity for students to experience live music by allowing them to earn additional tickets through participation in what is known as the “Street Team”. This allows young adults to work in the community and advertise for the music venues in exchange for concert tickets. Students will foster their communication skills and will promote a strong work ethic that will benefit them in their future. Bringing Street Team to North High School will not only benefit the students, but the concert venues as well. It will connect them to the community and provide them with a much-needed service.

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