Student involvement in the arts can have positive effects on student achievement, creativity and self-confidence.
Over the past two years, Rose Avenue JPS students and staff have been working to put this adage into practice, through partnerships with Inner City Angels, Mariposa in the Schools, and Manulife Financial. On June 22, an event dubbed “Hold up the Sky” showcased the St. James Town neighbourhood school’s visual, music, and dramatic arts to the school community. Seated around the school entranceway and mosaic fountain, friends and family of Rose Avenue celebrated by listening to tabla and African drum ensembles, hearing students recount the arts creation process and watching the raising of culturally reflective banners.
“True to the title of the project — ‘Hold Up the Sky’ — anything is possible at Rose Avenue,” said Superintendent Beth Butcher. “Inspiration runs wild through the eyes of the beautiful children, hard work of teachers, our community partners, and our outstanding administration.”
After the assembly, guests were invited into the school to experience the art of the “Sistine Chapel” (a beautifully painted ceiling in the foyer), a soundscape highlighting the process of creating artwork and music with visual artists and musicians, and to hear from student art historians. One guest, Larry Swartz, an instructor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, said, “The arts bring joy, celebration and wonder. Projects like this are about caring for each other.”
Principal David Crichton spoke of school, business and arts groups partnering to enrich the lives of students and create a successful school within St. James Town. He added that these partnerships are “an example of adults and organizations coming together to meet the needs of the students and community.”
Nixon, a Rose Avenue student, summed up the experience: “When we have a better understanding of cultures, it leads to less racism in the world.”