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Arts as antidote for academic ills

Stationed in front of one of his large self-portraits, the artist Chuck Close raised his customized wheelchair to balance on two wheels, seeming to defy the laws of gravity, the New York Times reports.  The chair’s unlikely gymnastics underlined the points that Mr. Close was making to his audience, 40 seventh and eighth graders from Bridgeport, Conn.: Break the rules and use limitations to your advantage.  The message had particular resonance for these students, and a few educators and parents, who had come by bus on Monday from Roosevelt School to the Pace Gallery in Chelsea for a private tour of Mr. Close’s show. Roosevelt, located in a community with high unemployment and crushing poverty, recently had one of the worst records of any school in the state, with 80 percent of its seventh graders testing below grade level in reading and math.

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