Gail Brisson's blog


The Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG), an affiliate of IPEI, has mini-grants available for dance, drama, music, and visual arts projects that engage students. The Fall 2016 deadline is October 15, and Spring 2017 is February 1 for electronic submission. Ithaca City School District (ICSD) teachers and principals are eligible to apply. Applications are available online at , by phone 256-4734, or email

An affiliate of the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI), the FABG works in partnership with the ICSD to advocate, support and celebrate all the arts for all the kids. The Fine Arts Boosters strive for increased student access and participation, and for equity in the arts programs....(read more)

Maddie Carroll named Lee Strebel Memorial Award Winner


Maddie Carroll was named as the recipient of the 2016 Lee Strebel Memorial Award for Enthusiasm in the Performing Arts. Maddie accepted the award at the Ithaca High School’s Underclassmen Awards Night, June 7, 2016 in Ithaca High School’s Performing Arts Center Kulp Auditorium. The Lee Strebel Memorial Award is presented each year to an Ithaca High School student who has not only participated in the performing arts at the high school level, but has shown extraordinary spirit in that pursuit.

The award is given in loving memory of Lee Strebel, an Ithaca High School student who died suddenly during his freshman year in February 2006....(read more)

Visit the Watershed Wall mural during the Ithaca Festival and Thank an art teacher!

The Watershed Wall is a clay tile mural created in 2010 by students of the Ithaca City School District as a result of a public art collaboration between the City of Ithaca and the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) art teachers. This project was facilitated by the Fine Arts Booster Group, an affiliate of the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI), and supported by many community organizations. The mural has new signs including legends that indicate the sections made by each school. Thank you, City of Ithaca, Brooks Hendrix, Duane Ross and his team for installing the updated signs.

Visit the mural during the Ithaca Festival and tweet your thanks to visual art teacher....(read more)

Boynton Middle School Music Department Announces Music Showcase Festival Results

The student members of the Boynton Middle School 7 – 8 String Orchestra, 7 – 8 Chorus and Concert Band gave outstanding performances at the Music Showcase Festival in Harrisburg, PA, on Saturday, May 21, 2016. Congratulations to all of the student participants and special thanks to the many parents and teachers who helped by chaperoning and moving equipment....(read more)

Rella and Barney Cohn Music Scholarship Fund Awards Grant

The Fine Arts Booster Group, an affiliate of the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI), will award summer music scholarships through the Rella and Barney Cohn Music Scholarship Fund. Established by Abby Cohn in memory of her parents and in honor of the excellent music education available in the Ithaca City School District (ICSD),the fund will provide more than seven music scholarships for summer study through the Ithaca Youth Bureau (IYB) Summer Band and Orchestra Program. The Rella and Barney Cohn Music Scholarship Fund is administered by IPEI with assistance from the Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG) and the IYB. Contact for more information.

Michael W....(read more)

“Play it Again, Ithaca” – Donate Used Musical Instruments

The Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG) through its “Play it Again, Ithaca” program collects used musical instruments to be distributed to students in the Ithaca City School District (ICSD). These donated instruments become part of the ICSD collection of instruments available for free use to students in the district.

FABG strives to provide ICSD students who might not otherwise have access to instruments an opportunity to participate in band and orchestra. The ICSD arts program allows students to take free instrumental lessons during school hours and participate in the school musical groups....(read more)


The Ithaca City School District (ICSD) will host the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA), Zone 3, Solo and Ensemble Festival on May 6 and 7, 2016 at Boynton Middle School. Over 1,512 student musicians come from 9 counties to participate. The Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG), with hundreds of community and student volunteers, helps host this event. Interested volunteers may contact for information.

This is the fourth year that the ICSD has hosted this event....(read more)

Jazz Education in the Ithaca City Schools

Thanks to Michael Treat for this information, which is also included in the upcoming District Jazz Concert Program April 21, 7:30 p.m. at the Ithaca High School Performing Arts Center.

This concert will have special guest trombonist Melissa Gardiner, made possible by a grant from the Fine Arts Booster Group, an affiliate of IPEI.

The Ithaca School District has a proud history of introducing many young people to Jazz Music. Several Ithaca alumni have continued on to advanced degrees in jazz performance and some are now leading jazz programs at Universities in various parts of the country.

Students can begin learning to play Jazz in middle school. Jazz Ensembles and electives are offered at Boynton and DeWitt....(read more)


The Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG), an affiliate of IPEI, has awarded $11,124 in special grants for Ithaca City School District (ICSD) programs that will reach 400 students annually. The special grants will support ongoing activity over multiple years and include microphones for use in Boynton Middle School’s McCalmon Theatre, new choral risers for DeWitt Middle School and Ithaca High School choir uniforms.

Co-President Alice Wu notes, “Our school district does a great job of supporting the arts, and some programs can also benefit from additional help. The Fine Arts Booster Group is glad to offer assistance in these areas. For example, FABG helped the expanding Sixth Grade Choir at DeWitt get risers needed for their classroom use....(read more)

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