Our History Story 2001-2002 to 2012- Anniversary Stories from Our Tenth Year

Story #1: Our wonderful affiliation with IPEI, making the beginning possible
IPEI: Fifteen & Forward

In 1995, a task force of community members committed to maintaining the excellence of Ithaca’s schools began meeting in response to a challenge set forth in the ICSD Strategic Plan of 1994. It called for a vehicle that could facilitate access to the community resources needed to ensure the success of all students in the district, and resulted in the birth of the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI). IPEI was incorporated as a non-profit entity with 501(c)(3) status, and its all-volunteer board of directors met for the first time in 1996.

From the beginning, IPEI was and remains dedicated to creating avenues for community involvement in public education, enabling and rewarding excellence in teaching, and helping to develop exciting educational projects that cannot be funded through tax dollars alone. This was manifested first and foremost in IPEI’s Teacher Grants: a program that awards grants (now in amounts up to $1,500) to individual teachers to fund innovative projects that must include the involvement of a community partner. Over the years, IPEI added a number of other grant programs including Red & Gold Grants, which provide up to $500 to support projects developed by teachers, staff members, students, families, or community members; and Community Collaboration Grants awarded to non-profit community organizations wishing to initiate curricular-enhancing programs with the ICSD.

To date, IPEI has awarded more than 1,000 grants totaling over $1,000,000—an astonishing record of success and a testament not just to the dedication and commitment of the many volunteers who serve on its board, serve on its various committees, help to organize its annual Adult Spelling Bee fundraising event, and contribute in many ways both tangible and intangible. It is also a testament to the commitment of the entire Ithaca community to educational excellence, because every penny of the $1,000,000 came from the community. IPEI’s accomplishments are something in which all of us can take pride.

IPEI’s commitment to education has extended to fostering affiliates, such as with the Fine Arts Booster Group and Code Red Robotics.

Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG) Affiliates with IPEI In 2000 Michael Allen, who was then Cayuga Heights Elementary Band teacher and is now middle school band teacher, noted a need for a music booster group due to the terrible state of the instrument inventory. ICSD Superintendent Dr. Judith Pastel supported the formation of a booster group including all the arts. Aided by Randy Ehrenberg, Assistant Superintendent; Holly Kazarinoff, TST BOCES Enrichment Coordinator; and volunteer facilitator Elayne Nicholas; an ad hoc group of parents, teachers and community members met to determine a group structure, draw up bylaws and form a first board. After a six-month discussion, the inaugural board led by first president Patti Nozell was anxious to begin organizing support for the arts. IPEI agreed to act as the non-profit umbrella for this new group, and work together in an affiliate relationship. The school year 2001-2002 marked the first year of operation for the Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG) and culminated in a fundraiser called Festival of Talents, a student, teacher and community member variety show at the State Theater and an art exhibit at Autumn Leaves Bookstore, featuring teachers’ art work.

“We are all better together.” states past booster president Martha Frommelt. “Working with IPEI’s board and learning from their experiences has made the booster group stronger. In turn, the boosters have been able to bring focused community connection to the arts.”

Now approaching year ten, the Fine Arts Booster Group celebrates its affiliate relationship with IPEI, as well as specific support for the arts. Tina Mollenkamp, current booster president, says, “”I am inspired by the work IPEI is doing for the community as well as their continuous work to improve our organization. I know this partnership will maintain IPEI and FABG as strong supporters of ICSD as we go forward.”

FABG Anniversary: Ten Stories for Ten Years 2012

Story #2: FABG ANNIVERSARY: Ten Stories for Ten Years 2012
The Power of Co-Curricular Activity: After School Rules

Ithaca City School District Superintendent Dr. Brown is a good story teller. Since his introduction to the district community, Luvelle Brown has been sharing powerful stories of the impact of co-curricular activities. Ask him about the middle school boys he was charged with as an associate principal and the impact of enrolling those boys in orchestra. Ask him about the power of his own experience in athletics. Dr. Brown’s doctoral studies in educational leadership lead him to research the power of co-curricular activities. The research is clear: after school activities have an impact on learning.

My children often lived for the extra-curricular activity at the end of the day. Their grades improved, time management was excellent and adult interaction inspired them to push themselves. Linking after school and in-school work brings together the whole student, connecting the school day to “their” day. Think of the dramas and musicals, the choirs, the teams, ensembles, the clubs, the math team and Code Red Robotics. The interest is high. For example, this year the Ithaca High School musical auditioned 90 students. The Boynton Theatre Project accommodates any student who wants to participate. One hundred students are in the Ithaca High School after school choir. DeWitt Middle School students are meeting before school to study Vivaldi, funded by an IPEI Teacher Grant. Fall Creek Elementary students are rocking in their School of Rock. LACS students are partnering with BOCES students to study Keesha’s House with dancer Lisa Tstete, funded by a Fine Arts Booster Mini-Grant. For ten years, the Fine Arts Booster Group has advocated for and celebrated the arts and co-curricular activities. In Fall 2010, a successful campaign called Arts Alive was launched to restore co-curricular activities. With all activities back, the district is considering a new plan called EDGE (Enriching the Day Generates Excellence). The title of this program says it all.

According to the district, EDGE seeks to involve all students in grades 6-12 in co-curricular programs in a “pro-active effort” to support the positive student outcomes. Our district is fortunate to have many offerings after school, and a key focus of EDGE will be reaching all students. Anticipated outcomes of this program include “increased student achievement, development of independence, development of decision making skills, increased school attendance, reduced dropout rate, increased self-esteem, increased educational aspirations and attainment, increased parental involvement, increased leadership abilities, increased abilities to develop positive relationship building, reduced discipline, reduced smoking and /or illegal drug use”. The EDGE Program goals correlate to the Board of Education priorities. Research studies confirm the impact on learning.

The Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG) believes that the arts are for all and hold the vision of “all the arts for all the kids”. This vision is a big one, but one that is in sync with EDGE. Whether in the arts or some other interest, join us in celebrating student learning all day long. After school rules!

submitted by Martha Frommelt

Story #3: FABG Anniversary: Ten Stories for Ten Years
All I Really Need To Know I Learned Doing Public Art: Remembering the Watershed Wall

In 2009-2010, the Fine Arts Booster Group coordinated a large public art project called the Watershed Wall. This project was such a massive undertaking that it taught us many lessons, reminiscent of the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. This is what we learned from public art….

*A big idea is worth doing. *Teachers really do know best. *City officials are creative people, too. *When you need help, ask for it and the community will respond. *Children are wise. *Everything is more fun when you collaborate. *Mistakes do happen but solutions are found. *It’s O.K. not to able to imagine it, someone else can. *Seeing something you created makes you proud. *Art reaches everyone.

The Watershed Wall is a clay tile mural created by students of the Ithaca City School District as a result of 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. The fifty-five foot mural was installed on the parking garage wall adjacent to the “Butterfly Alley” near Cinemapolis in downtown Ithaca and has been donated to the City of Ithaca. The mural design represents an aerial view of the creeks feeding Cayuga Lake, our watershed. The clay tiles represent land and the lake rocks represent water, celebrating art and nature. This design was created by district art teachers with inclusive and developmentally appropriate educational goals in mind.

Students from ten schools from all grade levels worked on the clay tiles in their art classes. Each school was assigned a “land mass” or section and students worked collaboratively to make their imprints in clay. Students made their textural impressions using a combination of natural objects and other items that represent their heritage and experiences. The sections were cut into tiles and kiln-fired, stained and fired again. Once a school section was finished, the tiles were brought to a central location, assembled and affixed to panels.

The assembly process engaged community volunteers, some who had never been in our schools, and students led by coordinating artist Annemarie Zwack and coordinating booster volunteer Candace Shoemaker. Belle Sherman Elementary School’s art room became the designated assembly center.

The project was unveiled on June 4, 2010 with a ribbon cutting ceremony led by then Major Carol Peterson. Project support came from the Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG), the City of Ithaca Department of Public Works and Public Art Commission, Ithaca City School District art teachers, the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI), IPEI Teacher Grants and FABG mini-grants, the Service League, Tompkins Trust Company, All Stone and Tile Company, Tim Merrick Construction, Cayuga Lumber Company, Annemarie Zwack, the Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom and Trout in the Classroom Projects, the Strebel Community Enrichment Fund of the Community Foundation of Tompkins County and A and B Awards.

This project was undertaken to celebrate children’s art and connect their work to our community. Check out the wall this spring, if you find the year 2010 spelled out in rock, email us at president@fabgithaca.org or call 277-4631. Check out pictures and descriptions on our website at www.fabgithaca.org.

Story #4: FABG ANNIVERSARY: Ten Stories for Ten Years
Our Teachers’ Wisdom

Teachers are at the core of the success of the district and of our children. The Fine Arts Booster Group’s mission includes a focus on supporting and partnering with staff members. Teachers guide, support, lead, inspire. The boosters had the privilege of reflecting on education with recently retired elementary visual art teacher Pat Amato. Pat taught for 37 years in almost every elementary building in the district and shared her insights about art education. On our tenth year, the boosters salute and celebrate our teachers’ wisdom.

What is the role of the elementary art classroom? The art classroom is a place where kids can try a different side of their brains. Students are allowed to think freely, immerse themselves in materials and allow a plan to emerge. The environment is a safe one, where students can feel relaxed enough to experiment and just enjoy. Adults forget that kids do have a “voice” at a young age, things they want to say or ways they see themselves. Art enables students to express that voice in different ways.

What does art teach? Art teaches many things…the basics, like eye/hand coordination, as well as classroom community skills like kindness, organization and safety. Art teaches how to solve problems, socially and materially. Art teaches us how to reflect and then talk about ourselves and our feelings, as well as talk about others’ work with respect.

What is the ideal art room? The ideal art room is a safe place where students can find a gallery for their work, allowing them to gather and talk. The ideal art room is interwoven with the grade-level classrooms and their curriculum themes. The ideal art room helps kids connect to their experiences throughout their day. The ideal art room has a small number of students, and those students can work until they are done, not constrained by a clock, with natural light, sinks, and a mixed-age peer group. And, the ideal art room always has an open door to parents.

What changes have occurred over 37 years? Now everything moves fast. Teachers don’t have as much time to pursue teachable moments. Testing takes the most focus, along with administrative duties. Teachers don’t have as much time to share ideas and to teach each other. Art is still misunderstood and is often still seen as a frill, disconnected from the classroom.

What advice would you give to the brand new art teacher? Become friends with your custodian and secretary and get to know your principal. Meet all of the classroom teachers and find out what they do each week. Look to the community for resources, including volunteers and materials. Check out the local galleries and museums, and get visiting artists to your classroom. Include parents and share your newsletter with them, including vocabulary for home discussion. Take visitation days to other art classrooms and learn from your colleagues. Set up your room in a way that works for you and your students. Check out the school library to see what resources it offers and integrate literature into your art room. What advice would you give to students? You don’t have to wait until you grow up to be an artist. Think of yourself as an artist right off the bat. Keep trying things. Practice and get comfortable with new skills. Be conscious and considerate of your peers. Establish positive routines in the art classroom that can then become routines elsewhere.

What advice would you give to parents? Value art and your children will, too. Take them to gallery nights and museum openings and talk to some artists!

Final thoughts? I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. Teaching was a calling. It was a hard job, but the fabulous students gave me so much.

FABG salutes Pat and all our great teachers!

Story #5: FABG Anniversary: Ten Stories for Ten Years
Support Promotes Student Activity and Access: Grants and Play It Again, Ithaca

By Heather Zimar, Ithaca College Graduate Student and IPEI Intern

Once a week, 15 fourth and fifth graders give up recess to convene in the music room at Belle Sherman Elementary School and participate in the “Magnificent Mariachi Music” program, started just over a year ago by Cindy Daly, Ithaca City School District (ICSD) music teacher. The program combines performance arts, Spanish language instruction and study of Mexican culture. It is funded in part by the Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG) and the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI).

“The program is a multicultural offering that helps support the Mexican culture through music,” Daly said. “It’s wonderful to see students show support for this culture.”

With funds from a FABG Mini-Grant and an IPEI Teacher Grant, Daly is able to purchase instruments and sound equipment for use at the school and in the community. In addition, Daly will collaborate with community partner Carolina Osorio-Gil, artist-in-residence at Cornell University and a founder of CULTURA, in a musical series later this year. IPEI Teacher Grants are awarded to ICSD teachers who create innovative projects that bring community members into active participation in the classroom. FABG Mini-Grants are awarded to teachers for programs that support the arts in schools.

“We came upon the idea when [ICSD] was cutting programs. If it wasn’t for IPEI and FABG, we’d have none of this.”

Members of the ensemble became interested after watching a video of professional Mariachi performers at a recruitment assembly, and when trying out the instruments during classroom visits by Daly. Four of the 15 musicians never played an instrument until they joined the group. “That’s one of the exciting things about the program,” Daly said. “We’re including some students who want to try something new but who weren’t hooked by the regular band or orchestra.”

The ensemble includes three trumpets, four violins, seven guitars, and one vihuela, a high-pitched, five-string guitar. Daly said the vihuela, new this year, will likely attract more students to the ensemble in the fall. “It adds a brilliance and brightness to the group,” Daly said. “And it works for smaller players.”

Musicians also rotate playing the guitarrón, a large acoustic bass guitar, which is light in weight but is almost as tall as and wider than the students. “They are getting more familiar,” Daly said. “They are checking it out.”

The full ensemble meets every week, and sectionals meet once per month to learn new techniques and practice in a smaller group. “The program gives students a chance to play together who would not normally play together,” Daly said. “It gives them a whole new chance to experience teamwork.”

Sophia Ferwerda, a fourth-grader, said she joined the group because she liked the sound of Mariachi music and wanted to learn how to play it. Ferwerda, a violin player, is now learning the trumpet. “I like the sound the trumpet gives off and how it is pretty easy to play because it’s only three valves,” she said. “You can go really high and really low on it.”

Fourth-grader Natalie Boucher said her family inspired her to join the ensemble. Boucher, a violinist and pianist, is now learning the guitar and the guitarrón. “I really like the guitar because my dad plays it, and I really wanted to learn Mariachi because I have one sister who is fluent in Spanish, and my other sister is almost fluent.”

“I like the music we play,” Boucher added.

Students sing songs like “Mi Chacra” in Spanish, and Daly speaks the language when counting rhythm and instructions. “They’ve got certain phrases and commands down,” she said.

New sound equipment, funded by the grants, will enable students’ voices to be better heard during performances later this year. “It’s very important because these musicians don’t have the strength in their voices at this age to be able to project their voices above the instruments,” Daly said. “The microphones will allow them to sing in a healthy way.”

Additional equipment such as a small, portable PA system will be available to others in the school as well as in the community. “The sound equipment allows our group to be in balance, and it also will allow us to visit other venues to share our music with others,” Daly said. “This community connection is an important part of our program.”

“We wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the grants,” Daly added.

The Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG) is celebrating its 10th year. The all-volunteer group’s first effort was A Festival of Talents, a showcase of school talent and an art exhibit, designed to raise money for the purchase of instruments because the district instrument supply was small and in disrepair. Play It Again, Ithaca, a musical instrument recycling program was established. The boosters collect and refurbish used instruments and then donate them to the district for student use. To date, more than 120 instruments have been collected. Today the district has a system for instrument inventory and replacement. The boosters enrich this system with grants for special and unique instruments, as well as supporting experiences for kids.

FABG, founded in 2001, is an affiliate of IPEI and works in partnership with the ICSD to advocate, support and celebrate all the arts for all the kids. The district and boosters work in partnership to address student needs. To see funded grant projects, visit the booster website at www.fabgithaca.org/receive.

IPEI is a community based not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that develops supportive community and private sector relationships with the Ithaca City School District. Founded in 1996, IPEI is committed to connecting school and community through collaboration, engagement, gifts and grants. For more information, see www.ipei.org or contact 256-IPEI (4734) or ipei@ipei.org.

Story #6 FABG Anniversary: Ten Stories for Ten Years
Artist in the Classroom: Partners for Learning

When you meet actress Holly Adams, you view energy in motion. Holly Adams, an actress, director, clown, playwright, and Hangar Theatre teaching artist, is full of ideas, juggling a schedule that changes each week and is always on the go. From stage to the classroom, Holly will tell you she loves both. “I personally LOVE teaching and find it improves my work as a performer and playwright. I do a combination of teaching master classes in certain aspects of theatre performance and creating arts-based academic curriculum for alternative learning strategies in k-12. It’s wonderful and so inspiring! I worked hard to become an excellent teaching artist, including taking teaching courses and being an apprentice to a master teaching artist; every year I make sure to take at least one class to grow my artistry and one to grow my teaching skills.”

In 2011, Holly was the artist in residence at Caroline Elementary School, partnering with the third grade team of teachers to improve literacy, particularly inference. This Hangar Theatre pilot project was funded by grants from IPEI and the Fine Arts Booster Group. The residency goal was to use theater techniques to navigate inference and help students uncover meaning. Theater scenes, acting out text and using the language of theater (character, scene, setting) were all tools for investigating inference. Teachers saw an increased level of comprehension and concept use, and used the ongoing evaluations of core content knowledge, creation of icons to better dissect paragraphs, and identification of types of paragraphs as strategies to expand the types of inferences students make.

When you meet dancer Lisa Tsetse, you are taken in by her eyes. She uses those eyes to really see what is going on in the classroom, and she is a master at using that knowledge to get students to move. Lisa worked with all preschool students in 2008-10 with “D is for Dancing”, a dance residency focusing on the alphabet. She expanded her Teaching Artist work with kindergarteners in “Dance and Love Those Letters” residency, a collaboration with Carol Cedarholm and the Love Those Letters project of the district and the Family Reading Partnership. These projects had IPEI and Fine Arts Booster Group grant assistance, as well as support from many others. Pre and post residency assessments confirmed student progress. Students were engaged in multiple levels of learning. According to former Program Leader Diana Levy, “The integrated nature of the curriculum engaged the children in all areas of their development: cognitive, social-emotional, language and physical. The project made outstanding use of creative movement, dance and music as a means to approach the children’s cognitive and language/literacy training”. Lisa notes, “To see children as they are and to use the arts as a creative tool to enthusiastically support who they might become - this is truly joyful and lifelong work”.

The Fine Arts Booster Group, as an IPEI affiliate, seeks to connect community resources to the schools. Ithaca is blessed with talented artists eager to connect to our schools. Lisa and Holly bring passion to their art and to their work in the classroom. These artists become collaborators with the classroom teacher, partnering on new paths to learning. These partnerships have proven to invigorate all, the students, the teachers and the artists.

Story #7: FABG Anniversary: Ten Stories for Ten Years

Booster Mission: Support Access for All

The Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG) was formed, in part, due to equity issues. There were not enough musical instruments to go around. The image of band teacher Mr. Allen holding up a squashed tuba, part of Fall Creek’s music “supply”, brought the need into clear focus. Back in 2001, parents, community members and the district responded. A booster group was formed. Fundraising events held. Instruments were purchased and rented. A happy ending? Well, it’s really just the beginning of the story.

Supporting access to adequate supplies, instruments and experiences for all students is a complex and challenging task. The booster group made increasing equitable access to district curriculum one of its ideals. The Fine Arts Booster Group has held discussions, hosted speakers and gathered information over the years to identify issues, successes and roadblocks to access issues in the arts. Now, ten years later, there has been much progress, more understanding and increased resources. One district success is often taken for granted: visual art and music instruction are included as part of the school day. Our K-12 students benefit from trained teachers instructing them in art and music. Band and orchestra lessons are offered for free. Vocal music and visual art are taught weekly in grades K-5. Art and music requirements continue in middle school and a fine arts credit is needed to graduate from high school. Every fourth grader experiences drama with the Hangar Theater’s Project 4. Students in the secondary schools can participate in a musical and a drama. In addition, various clubs offer everything from urban art to Celtic band. Michael Allen, district music liaison, says “no student is turned away for any reason” and “outreach is done to reach students of all backgrounds”. Carol Spence, district visual art liaison, notes “we are constantly looking at ways to make our curriculum relevant and accessible”.

However, work on access is a constant goal. Communication, supplies, coordination, transportation and time are ongoing needs. Sometimes, testing pressures push the arts into “second class” status. Creative scheduling is needed to accommodate student interests and make way for new areas. A connecting vision for grades K-12 is essential. Pre-school questions need to be systematically considered. Field trips and enrichment activities should be available to all schools (as is possible through IPEI’s Kids Discover the Trail), not just schools with fundraising abilities. The desire to improve access is constant.

The community commitment to a vision of “all the arts for all the kids” is strong. The arts offer all students opportunities, because by their nature, arts are accessible. Students can engage in drama, dance, music, art and literary arts, bringing their own cultural perspectives and traditions to the experience. The arts can also strengthen teaching in other subjects. Research shows the arts are an important part of a balanced education and can help close the achievement gap. The arts can pave the way to reach all students and build our school communities, connecting all. Join the boosters in the next ten years of supporting this vision.
www.fabgithaca.org or email president@fabgithaca.org

Story #8 FABG Anniversary: Ten Stories for Ten Years
Community Partners for Student Needs

By Heather Zimar, Ithaca College Graduate Student and IPEI Intern

BJM Students Receive New Violins With IPEI and FABG Support

Support from a Fine Arts Booster Group (FABG) Mini-Grant and Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) Red and Gold Grant enabled Aaron Buck, Ithaca City School District (ICSD) strings teacher, to purchase three half-size violins, including case, bow, rosin and string, for students at Beverly J. Martin (BJM) Elementary School. The project, “Violins for Little Hands,” has helped 3rd and 4th graders start music lessons earlier and with better instruments. FABG Mini-Grants are awarded to teachers for programs that support the arts in schools. Red & Gold Grants are one-time awards to teachers, administrators, students and community members to assist with programs that strengthen and enrich the schools.

“The grants for BJM have given more students, who otherwise would not have had the opportunity financially, the chance to study the violin,” Buck said. “It is amazing to see how well the students do on instruments that are well built and sound incredible. They have more pride in themselves and seem to work more.”

This year more than 25 BJM students were on a waiting list to receive a beginner violin, many of which were in poor condition. The new violins have given students the chance to start lessons sooner, an important factor in their musical development and academic success. “Beginning study at an early age is easier when the child is less self-conscious and less distracted by peers or other outside activities,” Buck wrote in his grant application. “Studying music helps with math skills, helps with developing focus, and supports self-confidence.”

“It’s really important these kids have what they need to get started,” said Pat Dolson, a parent volunteer at BJM. “They’re so excited they have a violin to take home.”

Dolson said the grant-funded program called attention to the need for more instruments in the district. “It has started a conversation that has changed things for the district’s music program,” she said. “It warms my heart to give these students instruments that fit their bodies. I’m so happy that the FABG and IPEI exist to help support this program.”

IPEI is a community based not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that develops supportive community and private sector relationships with the Ithaca City School District. Founded in 1996, IPEI is committed to connecting school and community through collaboration, engagement, gifts and grants. For more information, see www.ipei.org or contact 256-IPEI (4734) or ipei@ipei.org.

FABG, founded in 2001, is an affiliate of IPEI and works in partnership with the Ithaca City School District to advocate, support and celebrate all the arts for all the kids.

The Fine Arts Booster Group is celebrating its 10th year. The all-volunteer group’s first effort was A Festival of Talents, a showcase of school talent and an art exhibit, designed to raise money for the purchase of instruments. The Ithaca City School District’s instrument supply was not adequate for student interest and in disrepair. Today the district and boosters work in partnership to address student needs. The district has a system for instrument inventory and replacement. The boosters enrich this system with grants for special and unique instruments, as well as supporting experiences for kids. To see funded grant projects, visit the booster website at www.fabgithaca.org/receive.

Story #9 FABG Anniversary: Ten Stories for Ten Years
Arts Reach

Giving grants is sometimes called “watering the seeds”. Teachers come up with great ideas and the boosters water the “seeds” with grants. Good ideas need to be watered. It is fun to see what grows.

Since 2001, the booster group has been awarding mini-grants of relatively modest sizes from $75 to $500. Grantees submit final reports on the grant results. The mini-grant investment is often paid back tenfold. Teachers are expert at fully utilizing resources.

One project funded in 2012, the Memory Project, reached all the way to Ecuador. Ithaca High School Students, under the guidance of art teacher Carol Spence, participated in an exchange with students in Ecuador. The Ecuadorian children, all orphans with few possessions, were partnered with Ithaca High School Grade 10-12 art students. Working from photographs, the Ithaca students created portraits of the children. Each child received the art work and a letter, beginning the exchange between Ithacan and Ecuadorian.

Portrait work has always been a part of the ICSD art curriculum. Creating portraits, as memory and in an exchange, helps ICSD students understand that art can be a powerful tool for transformation, connection and social change. Carol Spence states, “It was an emotional and beautiful project… Art can make a difference!”

This small grant had an international impact. The power of a portrait transcended language and country. The power of Ithaca High School student’s brushes and colored paint transcended the technology of a photograph. Arts do have reach.

Follow this link to view the children with their portraits. http://www.memoryproject.org/Ecuador-CarolSpence.zip

Story #10: FABG Anniversary Ten Stories for Ten Years
Celebrating Volunteers

Ten years ago, volunteers came together to discuss how to support arts education and ten years on, volunteers keep the work alive through the Fine Arts Booster Group. The real story of the Fine Arts Booster Group is based on the generosity of parents and community members giving their time doing things big and small to help students experience the arts.

FABG volunteers have been parents inspired by their student’s involvement in district classes and activities, artists who celebrate student participation, and community members who think the arts are important to keep in education. Some volunteers offer one time help, some have worked over years, some have children in district schools and some do not. All in all, the combined volunteer efforts have resulted in amazing accomplishments.

Volunteers were asked recently about their involvement. Here are their thoughts on volunteering.

“While attending high school at a Boston suburb, I experienced art department teachers that made a huge difference in determining my profession as an apparel designer. Without their encouragement I doubt I would have thought I could ever draw. In appreciation to those committed teachers, it has been easy as a parent to support art students and teachers wherever I’ve lived.

The actual organization of FABG with its clear mission and superlative follow through makes arts focused volunteering especially rewarding. We do make a difference. We have kept the arts alive when it wasn’t easy. We support excellent programs. Everyone benefits and it makes me feel good to do my share.” Candace Shoemaker

“I work in an arts related field, and as my kids aged I was looking for a school organization to get involved with that would benefit my kids and fit my available time, FABG was a natural fit. Like many volunteer organizations it’s shouldered by a core group of people who work hard for what they believe. I have seen what their encouragement can do and am proud to say it has had and continues to have a very real impact on the school life of kids district wide. FABG focuses on “what if” rather than “now what” and its fearless leader has run the meetings on time with graciousness and a sense of humor that make meetings easy to attend.” Susan Zehnder

“I volunteered because I would like to see access to the arts be more equitable - I was hoping to help those who might otherwise not be able to study an instrument have the chance.” Beth Howard “Though we don’t meet more than four regular times a year, FABG is a solid consistent leader in the community who can put a ‘call to action’ with a positive equitable message of ‘art’ caring for our students. We are about the ‘all’ all the time!” Kim Evanoski

“All the arts for all the kids” has been a simple but effective message for the Fine Arts Booster Group. Though the work is never done, the vision continues to inspire new volunteers to join the effort. Let’s celebrate those volunteers!

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