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ASIA earns accolades

Sumas Mountain recognized with community partnership award and exemplary school designation

An Abbotsford middle-secondary school has earned a double honour from a North American organization.

Abbotsford School for Integrated Arts (ASIA) Sumas Mountain has received the Arts Schools Network (ASN) community partnership award, and has been designated an exemplary school of the arts.

"To be acknowledged for our work is a big deal," said school principal Marlene Funk.

With this designation, which lasts two years, other schools considering using arts-based curriculum ideas or concepts can contact ASIA for advice and insight. ASIA is one of 19 schools in North America to receive the title.

The community partnership award is given to a school or business that uses arts and education as a way to foster artistic and educational understanding.

ASIA teaches its students the important of being community minded by inspiring and modelling actions of integrity, through activities such as partnerships with the Abbotsford Arts Centre Theatre and the Run for Water Society.

Staff have also installed students' visual art pieces, developed a student-led arts integration workshop team and have had students perform at local businesses. Funk said ASIA also hosts music nights and festivals.

"The arts are very collaborative. We, as artists, need to send grappling hooks into the community" to help the students connect with other artists.

"We want our students to be the best artists they could be, and to be entrepreneurs and teachers," said Funk.

ASIA recently graduated 48 students from its fifth class, up from seven the first year.

The ASN is a non-profit professional organization which aims to provide leaders in arts schools with resources, support and networking opportunities.

The community partnership award will be presented during the annual ASN conference in October in Denver, Colo.