New York

The Summer Arts Institute at Stuyvesant High School

Second in a series on free summer opportunities for New York City students. Read the first post about the Manhattan School of Music Summer Music Camp. Vocal music students practicing at SAI. On a recent July morning, in a classroom at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, master vocal music teacher Jayne Skoog asked her students to pause. "Put your hand here for a minute," she instructed them, placing her hand on her ribcage. "Put your hand right here." The students placed their hands over their own chests, studying how air should move in and out of their lungs as they sing. Down the hall, Joe Bartolozzi was teaching an advanced music theory class, animatedly illustrating a point about tension and release with a joke about a pianist playing "Amazing Grace" and stopping just before the final, resolving chord. Bartolozzi let his students feel that tension as he finished the story - then played the chord, allowing everyone in the room to experience the release firsthand. Meanwhile, upstairs, students were scattered around teacher Jan Juracek's photography lab. Two worked together at a computer, using Photoshop to merge a student's self-portrait with a photograph of the New York City skyline. Juracek sat nearby, helping another student edit a digital photo. A small group sat sprawled at student desks, flipping through photography books and their own portfolios. On the floor, students assembled what appeared to be a poster-sized contact sheet: they explained that it's a collaborative piece they are creating, bringing together each student's self-portrait on the theme "THE ARTS: A Lens to the City." This theme is shared by the seven studios of the Summer Arts Institute, a free, four-week intensive arts program for New York City public school students entering grades 8-12. In addition to vocal music and photography, the studio programs include instrumental music, dance, drama, visual art, and film.
New York

New charter schools on the way…

A $16.6 million federal grant will fund the development and support of new charter schools in New York State, the US Department of Education announced in July. The grant, from the Department's Charter School Program, will be used primarily to create and support secondary-level charter schools. Today is the postmark deadline for the current round of applications for the planning and implementation of new charter schools. Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein have long pushed for the creation of more charter schools, successfully convincing the state legislature to increase the number of charters granted from 100 to 200 in April, 2007.  Half of the new charters are reserved for New York City. Even that limit may be short-lived; Governor Paterson reportedly told members of the Alliance for School Choice advocacy group that he supports lifting the cap on charters altogether. Approximately 18,000 students attend New York City's 60 charter schools, with thousands more students on waiting lists, according to the DOE. In response to this demand, eighteen new charter schools will open across the city this fall, with seven in the Bronx, five in Brooklyn, five in Manhattan, and one in Queens. The schools have a wide variety of institutional partners, including Victory Schools, adding two new charters to their six existing schools throughout the city, and the Success Charter Network, expanding from one to four schools in Harlem. The new charters, once they reach full capacity, will include six elementary schools, seven combined elementary-middle schools, one combined middle-high school, two high schools, and two K-12 schools.  Most existing New York City charter schools serve elementary and middle school students.
New York

Summer Music Camp at the Manhattan School of Music

Desmond Sam and William Guiracoche in rehearsal for the camp musical, Aladdin Jr. Photo by Brian Hatton. First in a series on free summer opportunities for New York City students. Coming soon: The Summer Arts Institute at Stuyvesant High School. More than 100 middle school students sit scattered throughout an auditorium at the Manhattan School of Music, clapping and cheering as names of students selected to perform in a concert are announced. Joanne Polk, the Dean of MSM's Precollege Division, shares a funny moment from one of the students concert sign-up sheet. "When I wrote 'How long is your piece?'" she says, "You wrote, 'It depends on how musically I play it.'" She finishes the morning announcements with a reminder about "Twin Day" that coming Friday, and the children stream out of the auditorium, many carrying instrument cases. Musically talented 6th through 9th graders come from public schools all over the city for the Manhattan School of Music's Summer Music Camp, where they study ensemble performance, music theory, and ear-training, take lessons in their particular discipline, and explore improvisation, conducting, composition, and more through electives. Mornings are for classes; afternoons are for extracurricular activities like marching band, ballroom dance, and acting classes. Rebecca Charnow, director of MSM's Young People's Division, says the camp is an important opportunity for middle school students, whose schools may have cut arts programs due to an increased focus on testing in mathematics and reading.