Happy Jason Mraz Day! Oh wait, sorry for the mix-up -- that was Aug. 19, 2014 (yes, the city of San Diego officially declared that date as Jason Mraz Day). However, it might as well be Feb. 24 for students at Logan Heights’ Burbank Elementary -- San Diego’s only Turnaround Arts-enrolled school.
What’s all this about, you might be thinking? Turnaround Arts is a program that coordinates the placement of musical instruments and art supplies at 68 schools across the country -- while providing them with professional development assistance on arts integration, a high-profile Turnaround Arts mentor, and more. According to a press release, participating schools have seen “big upticks in enrollment, decreases in disciplinary referrals, and more students meeting or performing above the standards for English Language Arts.”
Today marks the third year that Burbank Elementary has been involved in the program (which was started by President Barack Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities). So where does Jason Mraz factor in?
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For the unfamiliar, Mraz got his start in San Diego in 2000, and rose to stardom with “The Remedy,” a huge hit single off his 2002 major label debut album, “Waiting for My Rocket to Come.” He’s followed that up over the years with several other hits, including “I’m Yours” in 2008, “Lucky” (a collaboration with Colbie Caillat) and “Make It Mine” (which he won a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2010). To date, he’s sold more than 7 million albums worldwide.
Not content to just churn out gold records, Mraz has also been a very active philanthropist over the years -- most recently joining the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota in person to help protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. A champion of many social causes over the years, he established the Jason Mraz Foundation in 2011, and has turned his attention most notably toward the environment, LGBT equality, and human rights (he participated in a 2009 Ghana rescue mission with the Free the Slaves international nonprofit).
It seems no cause is too big or too small for the singer/songwriter: Teaming up with Turnaround Arts, he’s adopted Burbank Elementary. He’s met with students (and helped them to combat stage fright before their big winter concert) and personally assisted planting a schoolyard orchard with them. On Feb. 24, he’ll be back on campus for a closed-to-the-public visit (for students and staff only), joining them for musical performances, visiting the orchard, and helping kick off the school’s musical auditions.
If he didn’t already have one, we’d be inclined to declare Feb. 24 Jason Mraz Day in San Diego -- wouldn’t you agree?