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Reason 35 of 45 in Our 45 Day Countdown to the NEA RA's Adoption of the NEA FINE ARTS CAUCUS STE(A)M New Business Item

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Kerry Washington joins FLOTUS to showcase arts school

Maria Puente, USA TODAY 3:23 p.m. EDT May 24, 2013

Kerry Washington and Michelle Obama take the stage at an improving school in the nation's capital where the focus is on the arts.

Scandal star Kerry Washington joined first lady Michelle Obama at a Washington, D.C. school to showcase how a focus on the arts can dramatically reform under-performing schools.

But fans of ABC's hit Scandal, about a Washington PR fixer, might have been amused at the pairing of the two women: On the show, Washington's character is having a torrid love affair with the POTUS, enraging the FLOTUS who knows about it all too well.

But that's all make-believe because Washington and Obama are pals in real life. Also, Obama, as cheerleader-in-chief, is one of the few people in the nation's capital who doesn't need a PR fixer.

The duo appeared today at the Savoy School in D.C.'s Anacostia section, one of eight schools selected last year for The Turnaround Arts Initiative at the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Washington is a member of the committee and a mentor to the Savoy School.

The idea behind Turnaround schools is to use the arts to improve the culture and climate of the school and bolster academic success among students. Savoy was once floundering — the lowest performing school in the district — but the White House says it's already showing signs of improvement.Washington, 36, was elegant in a sleeveless black top and black harem-style pants, her hair pulled up and back, black spike heels on her feet. When she removed them, she was nearly a full head shorter than the tall Mrs. O, 49, who was wearing beige palazzo pants, a sleeveless flowing top cinched with a metallic belt and metallic kitten-heeled shoes. And her bangs are back.

They watched student performances (Washington performed with them, too), checked out their art work and tried a little freeze-dancing moves. Obama called Washington her "dear friend."

"You guys know, Kerry is a big-time star right now. Big time. I mean, there is no bigger star right now than Kerry," she said, according to the White House transcript.

"She's not just a beautiful, fashionable, talented woman, but she's real inside, and there is beauty deep inside. The fact that she is flying all over the country but she comes to spend time with you guys, and she does it for real; the fact that she's taken time out of her schedule to come here today, it shows a level of respect for me, of course, and our friendship, but it shows more her love for all of you. So, Kerry, love you, girl. Keep it going. Very proud of you."

Mostly they were there to deliver a pep talk to the students to keep up the good work.

"You all are so blessed to have this school, but we want you to keep working and prepare yourselves for greatness," Obama said. "It's not about what you know, it's about the effort that you put in, the amount of work that you're willing to do to get where you're going."

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