Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic. – Adrienne Cook

Every year, on March 17th, people who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day don their greenest garb, search for four-leaf clovers, eat corn beef and cabbage, dance the Irish jig, march in parades, and search for the leprechaun and his pot of gold. There are many famous Irish sayings and blessings that come to mind. One of my favorites Irish blessings is: “May you always walk in sunshine. May you never want for more. May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.”
Whether you are Irish or not, it can be a joyful occasion for both young and old. As a child, my favorite part of this celebration was wearing a bit of green (so I wouldn’t get pinched). I also delighted in imagining how a leprechaun might appear, as well as hearing the legend of this mythical creature.
Since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, there is the expectation of extra revelry. One of the oldest worldwide celebrations is a parade. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the United States was held in New York City in 1762, which was before the Revolutionary War and prior to its independence. If you’d like to join one in your area, here is a list for every state and throughout the world.
If you prefer to enjoy a quieter celebration, perhaps your family would like to host a gathering that includes educational games and fun-filled activities. You could have a treasure hunt to search for a “pot of gold”. Instead of playing “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”, you could have a geography lesson by pinning the country of Ireland onto a map of Europe.
Playing group games can be a lot of fun, too. Here are the rules for “Leprechaun, Leprechaun! Where’s Your Shamrock?”

  • One child is the leprechaun, who sits in the middle of the circle with eyes closed.
  • One of the children in the circle hides the shamrock behind his/her back. It’s suggested to have an adult distribute the shamrock so everyone gets a turn.
  • Circle children say: “Leprechaun, Leprechaun! Where’s your shamrock?  Somebody has it in their pocket!  Guess who?  Maybe you?  Maybe a monkey from the zoo!  Come on, Leprechaun, find your shamrock.”.
  • Leprechaun opens eyes and has 3 guesses as to who has the shamrock.
  • Child with the shamrock becomes the next leprechaun.

A St. Patrick’s Day gathering could also include a healthy green treat, such as a Mint Patty Shake that will delight the palette of all your guests. Here is a simple recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 cup refrigerated coconut milk
  • 1 pint mint chip ice cream
  • 2 cups packed baby kale

Instructions:
In a blender, combine coconut milk, ice cream, and kale. Cover and blend until smooth. (Makes 2 – 8 oz. servings)
While you are sipping on your green beverage, you could share some St. Patrick Day jokes and riddles:
Q: Where can leprechauns always find gold on St. Patty’s Day?
A: In the dictionary!
Q: Why are leprechauns so concerned about global warming?
A: They’re really into green living.
Here’s a few more theme-related riddles and jokes, just for the fun of it!
At the end of the festive day, you might enjoy reading some special books about St. Patrick’s Day. The site, Fireflies + Mud Pies, has an excellent source of books that will be a delight to story readers and listeners, alike.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

What font?

I had a student that submitted a research paper about the country of Japan. It was really well written, but I was especially taken by the font she used for typing her final paper. It was different from what she usually used. It made such an impression on me that I had to find out what font it was.
I was reminded of the 2005 commencement speech given by Steve Jobs at Stanford in which he spoke about how he came to learn about calligraphy and, inspired by that course, later developed fonts for the Mac. You can watch the speech here. 
So. I’ve been thinking how important it is to understand that each of the fonts one may use when typing actually COME from somewhere! They have a history! In my search for the history of one font I see all the time, every where I go, I discovered that there was actually a movie made about the font! You can view the trailer for Helvetica the movie here, and you can also purchase it.
How interesting to know that certain fonts are used to impress the reader! So if I use comic sans, I’m pretty much setting a certain mood. In fact, I may investigate further what font this blog is typed in. (It isn’t possible for me to change it to another font.) I think I’ll also find out which fonts the Oak Meadow curriculum uses.
By the way, the font the student used was Philosopher. Next time you type a paper, think about the font you are using and what impression it may leave on the reader!

Time Is Always Right

On October 14, 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the youngest man to ever receive it. He was just 35 years old and so committed to his cause that he donated the prize money of over $50,000. to the Civil Rights Movement. His protests and his “I Have a Dream” speech are world famous, and his accomplishments are still celebrated today. You can learn more about the 1960s and the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, by watching the excellent video The Sixties from Annenberg Lerner. In Dr. King Jr.’s honor, the United States Congress designated a federal holiday in January each year to be a national day of service.

To take part in this day, plan what you and your family may do to promote King’s values on January 15, 2018. It is the Martin Luther King Day of Service.
Each year I plan to mentor students in my community that experience challenges in school. It’s a service that I enjoy very much! Share with us what you and your family plan to do in the comments.

Favorite Holiday Traditions (Shared by Oak Meadow K-8 Teachers)

If I only had one holiday tradition that I could carry out, it would be quality time with my family and friends every year! I asked my colleagues to send in their favorite holiday traditions, and the responses were fantastic. I would like to share their stories that prove family time is the true joy of the season.
Kay Gibson: I love the idea of sharing traditions.  I tend to celebrate the season.  I usually go to a solstice gathering where we have a bonfire and lots of good hot food and drinks.  Hot apple cider and a warm bowl of chili in the glow of a fire is a great tradition for me.  It is especially fun when there is snow on the ground, as it brings more light into the darkest part of the year (here in the northern hemisphere). 

Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:6KolaceCookies.jpg

Sarah Antel: Foods connected to my family’s heritage have always been important and taken a center stage especially at the holidays. Growing up and into present time, Hungarian lekvar cookie dough was rolled out on my great grandmother’s wooden board, systematically cut, filled with prune butter, rolled around the filling, and baked. At some point during my childhood, Christmas Eve dinner consisted of Polish peirogies, shrimp, and a light mushroom soup. I’ve continued this tradition in my own home on Christmas Eve. And now that Sicilian traditions are also a part of our life, Christmas Day includes an abundance of seafood, eggplant parmesan, and Italian wedding soup.
Photo Credit: Meg Minehan

Meg Minehan: Our family has a few favorite holiday traditions. Ever since my kids were quite young, we have decorated a tree for the animals. We create edible ornaments, such as birdseed and peanut butter pine cones and popcorn cranberry garlands. We choose a spruce, pine or balsam fir that is “just right.” It is especially fun during a snowy December when we can go back a few days later and inspect the visitors tracks!
Another favorite tradition we’ve incorporated in more recent years is our family, homemade gift exchange. We draw names, and the only rule is you must make the gift. These gifts are simple and fun. Sometimes treats are concocted in the kitchen or treasures are created with wood scraps, paper, or yarn.  It is amazing how much thought goes into these presents. One year my son made his oldest sister a rustic birdhouse because he knows how much she loves birds. 
Of course, food is always a part of our holiday gatherings. Even though most of the year we try to limit ourselves to more wholesome treats, this time of year, we bring out the white flour and colored, sanding sugar for holiday cutout cookies. These are in addition to the other traditions… i.e. Santa, our Christmas tree, etc.
Photo Credit: Andy Kilroy

Andy Kilroy: Our family does advent calendars, but a little differently. In Denmark, there are little elves called Julen. These little guys wear big red hats and the night of November 30 creep into the house and put chocolate on the calendars, which are embroidered and hung up on the wall. They then go and help themselves to sugar in the sugar bowls or canister leaving tiny footprints in the sugar they spill. In the morning of December 1, the children wake up and fly down the steps and discover 24 pieces of chocolate hung on the calendars – one for each day before Christmas to count down to the big day. Here is a picture of the calendar I made years ago for my son. 
Lesley Arnold: When my kids were little we invited all their friends and parents to our house for a production of “The Night Before Christmas”. Our friend, a music teacher, interspersed the show with Christmas songs we all sang. Each family brought a present (in secret) wrapped with their own child’s name on it. (We tried to have it be a small gift so none were “outdone” by someone else’s gift.) I read “The Night Before Christmas” and my husband and friends acted out the poem. It was a big production with costumes and all! We even had a tiny sleigh and reindeer that we made and put on a pulley across the ceiling. The big event, though, was Santa Claus arriving. We put a picture of a fireplace in a doorway and he arrived through that! My father played Santa Claus and no one even knew it was him. In his big bag were all the presents for the kids. He called out each name and they came up and got their present. What a celebration it was! We still talk about my oldest daughter playing the sugar plum fairy at age 4! A wonderful event and the memory is the best gift!
Anna Logowitz: My sister and I were always in charge of choosing what color Chanukah candles we wanted for each night, and as we got older we also learned how to melt the ends so that they would stay upright in some of our shakier menorahs. The family menorah was simple dark metal, but over the years we accumulated two more. Our Aunt Nancy died when I was 9, and she had a flat little menorah, which became my sister’s and is now with me. My parents also went on a trip and brought back a beautiful one from an art school fair that branched like a tree and had birds sitting in it. We came up with different candle patterns, new ones each night, and watched to see which candles would last the longest.
My mother grew up Christian, and she repurposed two of her family’s traditions for us: Christmas cake became Good Luck Cake, to be eaten on the new year, and every year we made cookies – using Jewish and secular cookie cutters and a lot of very colorful homemade icing – to take to a party that we had with two other couples who had all been in a mixed marriage group with my parents before we were born. We ate them for dessert after latkes and corned beef, over a very large game a dreidel. That party is still going on after 35 years, I believe. 
We usually managed to do at least one special thing every night, whether it was being out and about or doing something at home, and we would always pick one night to do Chanukah full out, i.e. make latkes, which are a lot of work and leave the house smelling like oil and onions for days! I used to love to go to school the next day with the smell still in my clothes, because it meant that this was a special time of year. 
Photo Credit: Michelle Menegaz

Michelle Menegaz: We have started a new tradition based on an old one. Every year we had the most beautiful poignant Advent Spiral celebrations in a beautiful round healing sound temple. We used our own apples, drilled holes for candles and made a spiral of greens, stones, shells, small wooden animals, wild berries of winter, etc. Along the path, we placed large golden yellow paper stars. Children would walk alone (if old enough) into the center of the spiral, light their apple candle from the lit pillar in the middle, and then walk back out, placing their apple on one of the stars. We had quiet singing and music as they traversed this highly symbolic journey of traveling through the dark to find light at the center of it all, then bringing their light back out to the world.
Over the years my growing daughter got tired of this and we got tired of the huge effort of making it. For a few years, there was nothing and it felt sad. Last year, we had an impromptu gathering of about 7 teen girls, some of whom helped me create a huge labyrinth of greens outside in the snow atop our pasture hill. We had a campfire down below and when it was dark and the mood was right, each girl trudged up the hill, took up an unlit beeswax tea light in a pint mason jar, walked the snowy path between the greens, and lit their candle from the same pillar in the middle. Those waiting sang songs of light and joy. They headed back out and nestled their jar amongst the greens, and cavorted down the hill. There was more laughter, more shouting, more action, more unbridled LIFE so it had a different tone. But every single girl thanked me profusely and said it was the best thing they had done in a long time and that they missed this sort of thing. We will be doing this again this Solstice!
So, review the essence of what you treasure about your traditions and see if you can bring that to meet your growing children, even the young adult ones, in a new way that feeds them still.
We will love to hear from you! What are your favorite holiday traditions?
 

December 10 is Human Rights Day!

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It had taken the committee, led by Eleanor Roosevelt, over a year to complete their final draft. When the General Assembly gathered in Paris in 1948 to adopt the declaration, it was a remarkable event.  One member wrote: “I perceived clearly that I was participating in a truly significant historic event in which a consensus had been reached as to the supreme value of the human person, a value that did not originate in the decision of a worldly power, but rather in the fact of existing—which gave rise to the inalienable right to live free from want and oppression and to fully develop one’s personality.  In the Great Hall…there was an atmosphere of genuine solidarity and brotherhood among men and women from all latitudes, the like of which I have not seen again in any international setting.” Hernán Santa Cruz of Chile
On the United Nations website it reads:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was the result of the experience of the Second World War. With the end of that war, and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed never again to allow atrocities like those of that conflict happen again. 

So what does the Universal Declaration of Human Rights say?

This simplified version, from the Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) website, of the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been created especially for young people:
1. We Are All Born Free & Equal. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.
2. Don’t Discriminate. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.
3. The Right to Life. We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.
4. No Slavery. Nobody has any right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone our slave.
5. No Torture. Nobody has any right to hurt us or to torture us.
6. You Have Rights No Matter Where You Go. I am a person just like you!
7. We’re All Equal Before the Law. The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.
8. Your Human Rights Are Protected by Law. We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.
9. No Unfair Detainment. Nobody has the right to put us in prison without good reason and keep us there, or to send us away from our country.
10. The Right to Trial. If we are put on trial this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.
11. We’re Always Innocent Till Proven Guilty. Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proven. When people say we did a bad thing we have the right to show it is not true.
12. The Right to Privacy. Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters, or bother us or our family without a good reason.
13. Freedom to Move. We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish.
14. The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.
15. Right to a Nationality. We all have the right to belong to a country.
16. Marriage and Family. Every grown-up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.
17. The Right to Your Own Things. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.
18. Freedom of Thought. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.
19. Freedom of Expression. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.
20. The Right to Public Assembly. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.
21. The Right to Democracy. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.
22. Social Security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.
23. Workers’ Rights. Every grown-up has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.
24. The Right to Play. We all have the right to rest from work and to relax.
25. Food and Shelter for All. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.
26. The Right to Education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. We should learn about the United Nations and how to get on with others. Our parents can choose what we learn.
27. Copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that art, science and learning bring.
28. A Fair and Free World. There must be proper order so we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.
29. Responsibility. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.
30. No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights.

On December 10th I encourage you to read aloud and discuss the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Know your rights!

 

 

Favorite Family Traditions

December has arrived, which finds most of us in the full swing of holiday activities that connect us with seasonal rhythms of nature. Many of these festivities are surrounded by family and food, and a time for celebrating traditions. The most important tradition for the holiday season isn’t purchased at a store or doesn’t come wrapped in a package. Instead, it is spending time with family and friends. The memories made with those most precious to you can last a lifetime.
Here are ten ways to enjoy your holiday season with favorite family traditions:

  • Start a Family Memory Book – Everyone loves something made by hand, so why not create a family memory book? Every year, have each family member draw a picture of a favorite holiday activity, or even add a special photo to the book. These will be treasured as the pages and years grow in numbers.
  • Play Family Games – Holiday-themed charades can fill your home with laughter and joy! Playing a new board game every year is another enjoyable way to share quality time together.
  • Camp Out in the Living Room – Enjoy a family campout right in your living room. Light candles or a fire in the fireplace, play holiday music, sing songs together, and cozy up for a night with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head.
  • Share Stories – Read one of your childhood’s favorite holiday stories aloud as a family. Telling stories about your personal childhood will especially delight your children.
  • Act Out Stories – Acting out a holiday story can be a memorable tradition. Writing your own family play and presenting it to extended family members and friends is always exciting. You might even like to videotape it, start a new videotape every year, and then plan to watch the video of your family’s past year’s performance.
  • Be Playful – Your imaginations can soar with creativity and playfulness! Hide some of the holiday gifts instead of putting them in their regular place. Write out little clues and follow footprints made by the elves.
  • Be Secretive – Children love secrets! Make some extra traditional holiday cookies or special treats and secretly place a plateful at a neighbor’s door. There is nothing like making everyone smile as this little mystery is unfolded and solved!
  • Learn About Other Cultural Traditions – Go to the library and pick out stories of holidays in other cultures. Make a traditional meal or complete a craft project related to one of the cultural festivities.
  • Gift Yourself by Giving to Others – Have your children pick out one of their own toys, games, or clothes – something they like and think would be a joy to share with others. Go together to a local shelter to hand out the presents.
  • Invent Your Own Family Tradition – If you’re looking for a special way to bring your family closer this year, come up with your own favorite family tradition. The most valuable and long-lasting traditions start in the heart of your family.
Photo Credit: Spreading a Little Kindness

The Nutcracker Ballet

One of my favorite traditions during this time of year is watching the annual production of “The Nutcracker Ballet”. This grand holiday tradition dazzles and delights the audience with spectacular choreographed dancing, beautiful costumes, glorious scenery, and pyrotechnical magic as the brilliance of Tchaikovsky’s symphonic music is brought to life. “The Nutcracker” production is a very special performance for me, as it always brings back warm and wonderful memories of a magical family event during my children’s early home schooling years.
If taking your children to see “The Nutcracker Ballet” is a part of your holiday plans, then I highly recommend filling your home with the amazing orchestral soundtrack before you attend the performance. Since the performance is “told” in the form of music and dance, I also recommend reading aloud the story so your children can better understand the storyline during the performance. There are many books written about the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. One of my favorites is the original tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann (in 1816), translated by Ralph Manheim, and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
If you are also interested in sharing a little history of this special ballet with your children, then I recommend the book, The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition, written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Cathy Gendron.
Who would ever have thought that during WW II, three small-town Utah boys interested in ballet would have  started this annual holiday tradition? “The Nutcracker Ballet” has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder in both children and adults. It is a memorable and magical event that every family should enjoy together at least once, if not every year as a family tradition.

Rio 2016

2016 Olympic Logo and Font
2016 Olympic Logo and Font

I’ve had so much fun watching the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro this week! I’m amazed at the talented athletes and their determination to reach their goals. It is fascinating to see the results. I’ve also been fascinated with the Olympic logo and the font, so I decided to investigate how it came to be the official logo and font. The investigation was just as much fun as watching the Olympics! I was again amazed at the talent and the determination to reach the goal of having your design and font chosen. I learned that Frederico Gelli, a creative design artist in Rio and director of Brazil’s Tátil Design de Ideias, was at first put off by the amount of entries competing to win. With the same “never give up” determination of the Olympic athletes, Gelli was motivated to give it a try and worked hard for two months with his design team to come up with their entry. I loved reading how the the inspiration for the logo came to him:

“I had the idea of the 3D logo when I was swimming at Ipanema Beach,” says Gelli “I was under the water, and when I came up, I saw Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers Hill, above). And I said, we are in the middle of sculpture city, we need to make a harmonizing logo. All of the curves of the logo shapes come from the mountains in Rio de Janeiro — not only the main one Sugarloaf Mountain, but all of the the mountains.” (http://99u.com/articles/53580/how-the-2016-olympic-logo-and-font-were-created)

And then the really cool part is that they worked with a British typeface firm, Dalton Maag to create the font. The company’s creative director Fabio Haag and his team created a whole new alphabet of 500 letters and characters. What an amazing collaboration!
Read more here about the process, how the colors were chosen, and how the designers came together to create the logo and font we’ve been seeing everywhere during the Olympic games!

“Don’t put a limit on anything.

The more you dream, the further you get.”

Michael Phelps

 

Celebrating My Irish Heritage

Our blog post this week is written by Deb Velto, the Oak Meadow K-8 Director! ENJOY!

St. Patrick’s day can be a fun day for everyone, and it is especially important to our family because our ancestors are from Ireland. It is one of my favorite holidays, and I wanted to share a bit about my Irish heritage and the way we celebrate this day in our family.
Wearing green is something many people do on St. Patrick’s day, whether they are Irish or not. The tradition of wearing green comes from the Celtic tradition of wearing green during the vernal equinox to symbolize the new life of Spring. When Catholics, like St. Patrick, came to Ireland they adopted the tradition of wearing the color green as a symbol of Catholicism. The Irish flag is made up of a green stripe and an orange stripe with a white stripe between. The white stripe between the two symbolizes the unity of Catholicism (green) and Protestantism (orange) in Ireland, although even today, religious identity continues to be a source of conflict in Ireland. My grandmother always said that you got a pinch on St. Patrick’s day if you weren’t wearing green!
Because we are vegetarian, we do not eat the traditional corned beef and cabbage on March 17th, although I did grow up thinking it was delicious! Over the past twenty years, I have developed my own vegetarian versions of Irish dishes. For breakfast, we always have Irish tea and Irish oatmeal and scones or Irish soda bread. Our dinner table has vegetarian Shepherd’s pie (trust me, it is good), Kilcullen (a traditional Irish cabbage dish), brown bread, stuffed cabbage, and red potatoes. Of course, many people eat corned beef and cabbage, which is also a delicious Irish treat.
Irish music is one of my favorite parts of this time of year, and one that we always enjoy all day on St. Patrick’s day. Many varieties of flute, fiddle, and harp are traditionally Irish. The Irish hand drum is my favorite instrument, the Bodhrán (pronounced boe-rawn), which you might recognize as the pulsating beat in most traditional songs. Uilleann pipes have been played traditionally since the 5th century, and are often recognized in traditional Irish melodies. Irish music is fun to listen to, sing along to, and dance to! Some musicians to look for are the Chieftans and the Clancy Brothers.
Here is a clip of some musicians in Ireland: IRISH MUSIC
One new tradition my children have started is to set a leprechaun trap in our house the night before St. Patrick’s day. We haven’t caught one yet, but sometimes a leprechaun may leave behind a coin or other trinket, and cause other trouble in our house. For example, turning the milk in our refrigerator green!
I was lucky enough to visit Ireland several years ago with my mother. We spent time while we were there researching our family history. It so fascinating to find the documents related to where our family lived, in County Mayo Ireland, and when they immigrated during the potato famine and after. Many Irish immigrants came to America during the Potato famine – it is a sad but interesting part of European history to learn about. When I was in Ireland, I remember being struck by the beautiful green hills, gorgeous hydrangeas, and amazing castles that we saw!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone, whether you are Irish, or only Irish “for a day”!  I hope you have a chance to learn a bit more about Ireland, and Irish culture today!

Getting Involved by Volunteering

“Those who can, do.

Those who can do more, volunteer.”

~Author Unknown

This week our blog post is written by Abigail Wilson-Kageni. She’s been doing some very special volunteer work in her hometown of York, Pennsylvania and her Oak Meadow teacher suggested that she spread the word and tell other students about her project. I invited her to contribute to our blog post and I’m delighted that she did!  images-1My name is Abigail Wilson-Kageni and I am a student with Oak Meadow. I live in York, Pennsylvania. I have many interests and the opportunity to express myself creatively through the arts is especially dear to me.
The creative arts are an art form that allows people to express themselves through varying art mediums. Many things can fall under the category of creative arts. Dance, music, poetry, and painting are just a few. It’s been proven that children often do well when schools incorporate the creative arts in their curricula. However, in inner-city schools, budgets are a factor that usually decides if creative arts programs will be included in the annual budget. In most cases, schools in under served areas often fall victim to funding cuts which means the arts is excluded from the curriculum. This leaves students from financially challenged homes at a disadvantage. A variety of creative arts is needed to help students develop a love of learning. It is the inspiring base students need to succeed in school.
When I discovered this, I felt that I wanted all students to be supported and inspired by the opportunity for creative expression. After months of brain storming sessions with my mother, Tiered Innovations Initiative was born. This program has been evolving through different experiences that I have been privileged to part take of. For the past three years I have been a member of TeenSHARP, a college discovery program that meets every Saturday through the school year. I also just completed my tenure as a member of Scholastic Kids Press Corp. I was given the wonderful opportunity of covering Mrs. Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move Campaign at the White House, on two different occasions. I was also a member of El Sistema, a music program in which I spent three hours each day of the week perfecting my skills for playing the violin. It is these opportunities that have helped me to expand my curiosity and love for learning through the years.
This year, on February 24th, I officially launched the program. My local library, Martin Library, which is where I volunteer once a week, hosted the event and the event had a two-fold purpose. A local art store, Prime Art Supply Co, was running an art supply drive to donate city elementary school art materials. I decided to help the owner with this cause by inviting my guests to donate toward the drive. I titled the event ‘Encourage Creative Arts in Our Children’ and asked that our guests bring one item of any art supply to be donated the art drive. Monetary donations were also accepted toward purchasing a projector for one of the schools. It was a great success!
The city’s Mayor, Kim Bracey, was gracious enough to deliver a keynote speech while a noted artist and lecturer, Ophelia Chambliss, spoke about the importance of encouraging the youth to tell a story through their art. We were also celebrating Black History Month and as such, three area poets were on hand to commemorate the African American heritage through poetry recitals.
Tiered Innovations Initiative is a youth program that nurtures teens toward global citizenry through the creative arts. I will be offering workshops, facilitating summer camps, and inviting guests to continue to inspire the youth. I was humbled that people came out to support my efforts. I am delighted and excited for the good things that are ahead of me.
 

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