During the 2014-15 academic year, Al-Bustan is excited to have launched an expanded after-school program at John Moffet Elementary School. With the support of William Penn Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation, a three days per week, 3 hours each day, program in Arab arts is underway. Students of diverse ethnic backgrounds are learning Arabic songs, drumming, music skills, and engaged in a variety of visual art projects, led by Hanna Khoury (choir/violin), Serge El Helou (choir/piano/guitar), Hafez Kotain (percussion), and visual artists Tremain Smith, Nancy Sophy, Lisa Volta, and Cesar Viveros.
The after-school program has been filled with inspiring and wonderful moments, as well as some challenges that come with expanding from two-hours per week to nine hours. Program Coordinator Max Dugan is “the glue” that keeps everything together, from coordinating logistics with teaching artists, Moffet teachers, parents, and community partners.
Art students have shifted their focus in the second semester to creating mosaic stepping stones, alphabet tiles, murals, and fabric art that will be installed in the school’s garden. In the music program, students are learning to sing in Arabic (such as Yalli Zara’tu-l Burtua’n, Ya Nasima-Rih, and Tik Tik Tik), as wells some French and English songs. The percussionists shine with their energy and enthusiasm, just like last year’s drummers demonstrated in their performance in May 2014 with Rolando Morales-Matos, only now they have twice as much time to practice with Mr. Hafez.
Over the course of the year, our students have participated in some amazing events, such as the visit in November by guest artists Marcel Khalife and Abeer Nehme, poet Naomi Shihab Nye‘s visit to the school in December, the percussionists’ performance at Al-Bustan’s December concert at Trinity Center, their performance at City Hall in February as part of the opening reception of Al-Bustan’s exhibit, and the visit in March by guest vocalist Oumeima El Khalil. Later in the Spring, all the students will present in a series of community events planned at the school’s garden.
Just as the students in our program have grown in amazing and unforeseeable ways over the year, so has Al-Bustan adapted and matured. Thank you to the Moffet School community, as well as our supporters, who have made all of this possible!