Posted by Dave
Rap News Network
4/6/2006 1:40:53 PM
The Duke Ellington School of the Arts alumnus and comedian Dave Chappelle stopped by his alma mater Monday and offered encouragement to students attending a school assembly. Chappelle was in-town to perform for a sold-out benefit at the Kennedy Center on April 3, which raised approximately $300,000 to support school operations.
"The experience of attending Duke Ellington had a profoundly positive effect on my life and my work," said Chappelle. "I hope to help ensure that they continue to have the resources needed to enrich the lives of young people in Washington."
The stand-up comic, best known for his eponymous Comedy Central program, Chappelle's Show, donated all proceeds from the Kennedy Center performance to the school. A Washington, D.C., native, Chappelle's career began at age 14 when he started performing at area comedy clubs. At the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Chappelle studied literary and theater arts. Today, Dave's gift of laughter extends well beyond the stand-up circuit and includes numerous movie credits, including the recently released Dave Chappelle's Block Party.
"Dave Chappelle's success story is a true example of how the Duke Ellington School of the Arts can positively affect aspiring artists' lives," said Rory L. Pullens, head of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. "Dave's generosity to perform this benefit show will continue to help our students achieve their academic and professional goals. The Duke Ellington School of the Arts is very fortunate to have Dave as an alumnus, and we are grateful to him for taking time to raise much needed funds for our school."
In recognition of Chappelle's talent and contributions to the Ellington School, Mayor Anthony Williams declared April 3, 2006, "Dave Chappelle Day."
During the school assembly, the GRAMMY Foundation(R) announced the selection of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts as a GRAMMY Signature Schools(SM) Enterprise Award winner for 2006 -- one of only two schools to receive the honor. David Sears, senior director of education programs at the GRAMMY Foundation, presented a $15,000 grant to the Ellington School. Presented by 7 UP, the GRAMMY Signature Schools program was created in 1998 to recognize top U.S. public high schools that are making an outstanding commitment to music education during an academic school year.
"Whether you are an individual or an organization -- corporate or non- profit -- everyone can make a difference when it comes to supporting the school," said Ellen K. Coppley, Executive Director of The Ellington Fund. "Today we are fortunate to have support from both groups."
In addition to Chappelle, the school boasts a number of famous alumni who are supporters of the school, including mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, gospel recording artist William Becton, singer-songwriter Me'shell Ndegeocello, and actor Clifton Powell. Graduates can be found at National Geographic, Carnegie Mellon, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, as well as among GRAMMY Award winners and in nationally recognized film and television shows, such as the Tonight Show and As the World Turns. Faculty and artistic luminaries, such as Wynton Marsalis, Billy Taylor, Lynn Whitefield, and Lionel Hampton, also play an important role by teaching master classes. Actress and choreographer Debbie Allen was the school's first dance teacher and still supports the school.
For over 30 years, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts has been committed to shaping today's aspiring artists into tomorrow's leaders. Established in 1974, the school offers eight programs in dance, literary and media arts, museum studies, instrumental music, technical theatre, theater, visual arts, and vocal music. Students also are required to take rigorous courses in writing, literature, history, mathematics, world languages, and the sciences. To graduate, students must earn 31.5 credits, 34 percent more t
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