Tag Archives: volunteer

Hugh Cole School Productions

Hugh Cole School ProductionsI loved reading this article and learning more about the film & media work going on at Bristol-Warren’s Hugh Cole Elementary School.  Too often, exceptional and creative learning opportunities in or after school are dependent on the parents who come up with them and put in the volunteer hours to keep them going, and when those parents move on, the programs fall apart.  This is not a slam – the current trend in expectations-from-above is laying claim to every minute of teachers’ and principals’ time in school.  That’s why this program stands out – it has grown and evolved over the years, and seems to have lasted in spite of the inevitable departure of its parent-creator, Katie Reaves.  I often wonder, when I read about excellent programs like this one, how might they be expanded to other schools?  I think we could learn a lot from Katie Reaves and the Hugh Cole educators who have embraced this program.

“Children who participate become knowledgeable about the messages they are daily bombarded with. It allows students to deconstruct them so they become critical and analytic consumers. They know the tricks of the trade, so they are not at the mercy of the media. If they can watch it and play with it, they are also able to know how to work and create with it.” -Katie Reaves

Read the full article here: “When Children Make Media: A Visit to the Hugh Cole School” by Marketa Zezulkova

2nd Annual Lace Up For Strings

mark your calendars …

2nd Annual

“Lace Up for Strings”

5K Run/Walk

November 2, 2013 @ 9:00am

Colt State Park

Lace Up For Strings

Registration $20 ($18 prior to 10/30)

Help support the CSP in its mission to offer all youth in the East Bay area, regardless of income, an innovative, school-based music program centered on string instruments.   Learn more at www.communitystringproject.org.

Word Power – Reflect

The 2013 MHHS Poetry Slam held last week was a marvelous showcase of bravery, fun and self-expression, as students took their turn at the microphone to perform original poetic work (check out this article in the East Bay Newspapers covering the event).  Reflecting on this year’s event, MHHS teacher and Poetry Slam founder Kerry Mastriano said:

“Students tend to allow poetry to intimidate them.  They often feel disconnected to it and consider it to be on some kind of unattainable level.  My goal in creating the Music as Literature course was to present poetry to students in a more approachable fashion.  Many of them don’t realize that songs are poems, and once they do, they are more willing to embrace poetry altogether.  While teaching the course I witnessed a kind of metamorphosis occur; students who were once terrified of poetry became excited about analyzing, writing and performing it.  A Poetry Slam then seemed like a natural progression.  The students this year were amazing.  This is the third year we have held a Slam and they continue to blow me away.  They are so brave to get up there and pour their hearts out in front of their peers.  But what I find to be the most magical element is the way they respond to one another.  If one performer freezes or begins to struggle you can hear a pin drop, and if you look around you can see and feel dozens of other students in the audience holding their breaths, nodding and prompting as if to say “you can do it!”  For a brief time, all lines are blurred, cliques are disassembled, and they are all supporting one another during an extremely vulnerable moment.  It’s deeply moving.”

Ms. Mastriano hopes to expand this event for next year.  If you would like to support the next MHHS Poetry Slam, contact Ms. Mastriano at MastrianoK@bw.k12.ri.us.

I especially love Madeline Lessing’s poem for its earnest voice and clever imagery-

©2013 Madeline Lessing
©2013 Madeline Lessing

Lace Up for Strings!

Whether you’re a runner or a walker, spending Saturday morning in sunny Colt State Park in Bristol sounds like just the ticket after the week that Hurricane Sandy gave us!

1st Annual

“Lace Up for Strings” 

5K Run/1 mile Walk

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 at 9am in Colt State Park

Race starts at the Town Beach; $20 registration on the day of the event (helps fund CSP programs); learn more at www.communitystringproject.org

Learn from the Lorax

March is Arts Education Month, today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and this weekend is the opening weekend of the new movie, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” – three cheerful events I’ve been looking forward to sharing with my family.  ‘Course, thinking about The Lorax has reminded me of those words of wisdom uttered by the Once-ler in this storybook from my childhood,

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

The Lorax teaches us that we all have a responsibility, both collectively and individually, to take care of and protect the things we value.  Nature, children, the arts – our lists are individual, but we have this responsibility in common.  The Arts Room speaks for the arts, in our schools, in our community, in our lives.  Like the trees, the arts don’t have a voice of their own.  They need people like you and me to stand up for them and speak on their behalf, preferably before they are threatened.

March is also budget season for our school district, and we all know that our district is still at the beginning of a decade of difficult state funding cuts.  The Joint Finance Committee will hold a public meeting at some point this month to hear the school department’s budget request and determine the amount they will allow for the coming 2012-2013 school year.  Last year I attended the JFC meetings along with many other people, in an attempt to persuade the members to approve the full budget request made by the school department.  The experience made it clear to me that the current membership of the Joint Finance Committee, IN MY OPINION, is not interested in making education a top priority in our community.

It is after this year’s JFC meeting that the difficult decisions, if there are to be any, will be made.  It is also after this meeting that those of us who speak for the arts can do our part to make sure our schools reflect the educational experience we want our children to have.  By attending and respectfully participating in Budget Subcommittee meetings and School Committee meetings, and by meeting with Superintendent Melinda Thies and Assistant Superintendent Mario Andrade, we can remind the decision-makers why we value the arts in education and what we want our children’s education to include, moving forward.

Here are five more things we can do this March to celebrate Arts Education Month:

  1. ask your child’s Art and Music teachers what you can do to help them with a school project, program or event this year.
  2. buy a ticket to the Bodacious Bee on March 10th, or make a donation to the Bristol Warren Education Foundation if you’re busy on the 10th, and support the BWEF’s grant-making efforts, many of which fund arts-focused projects in our public schools.
  3. bring your children, or your grandchildren, or your nieces, nephews, or neighbors to see the KMS Masquers production of “Into the Woods, Jr.” on March 16th – 18th, and to The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon at MHHS on March 17th.
  4. subscribe to The Arts Room, like us on Facebook, and let us know about arts happenings in our local public schools.
  5. read with your children – read Dr. Seuss with your little ones (he wrote more than 40 children’s books, enough to read one each night of March and then some), read whatever your middle-schoolers are reading in class, start a book club night with your older teens – story lies at the heart of all the arts, and one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a lifelong love of story!

Happy birthday, T.S.G.