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A successful experiment

Alucia Walton with students

It started out as an experiment, Alucia Walton recalls. She and some of the other teachers at Hodge Prep, a public elementary school in Savannah, Ga., wanted to see if they could help some third- and fourth-grade boys who were struggling both academically and socially by starting an all-boys choir.

Although they liked to sing, many of the kids felt that singing in a choir was “not for boys,” says Walton, who teaches music at Hodge. So she showed them performances by the Harlem Boys Choir on YouTube. “Once I let them hear and see the Harlem Boys Choir and told them the names of some of the people who had been in that choir, they began to come around,” she says.

The results of the two-year-old “experiment” have been impressive. The boys’ self-esteem has improved, and their suspension rates have gone down, says Walton, who works closely with the boys’ teachers to make sure they stay on track with their schoolwork.

Walton, a member of the Savannah Federation of Teachers, regularly invites fathers and other men from the community to talk to the boys about topics ranging from conflict resolution to grooming. “It’s beginning to turn these kids around,” says Walton, who has a master’s degree in music education from Georgia Southern University. [photo by Nancy Heffernan]