District receives arts donation

JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education last week accepted an anonymous $13,047 donation to again provide city students with access to the Bridge Arts Ensemble, a New York City-based music enrichment program.

District Superintendent Patricia Kilburn said the district has been receiving ensemble donations for several years to aid the local program.

“The amount is amazing,” noted board President Kathryn Zajicek.

The Bridge Arts Ensemble performed earlier this year for students at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School and Glebe Street Elementary School. At Glebe, the ensemble gave performances of “When I Grow Up,” and worked with small groups during music classes.

In January 2016, Knox Junior High School students saw an ensemble performance. Students participating in music also attended workshops by singers, and musicians playing piano, cello, percussion and trumpet thanks to an anonymous donor.

According to its website, Bridge Arts Ensemble is a “teaching artist” organization that brings music to over 50 school districts in the Adirondack Park Region, and impacts more than 50,000 students annually. Ensemble artists travel from New York City in ensembles of six — two singers, a pianist, a percussionist and two additional instrumentalists — for residencies in each school district between three to five days.

The website indicates each ensemble consists of a “variety of diverse musicians, exposing students to musical styles,” including Broadway, classical, jazz and world music. The ensemble’s roster consists of some of New York City’s finest musicians, including graduates of The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Yale School of Music, and Cleveland Institute of Music.

Also last week, the board heard a presentation from Johnstown High School media specialist Dylan Thomarie about an ongoing district literacy initiative. He said the program was started in September 2014 with secondary students and has led to literacy improvement.

“The whole thing is teacher-led,” Thomarie said.

He said the program included “open responses” to literacy from elementary grades to literacy questions posed in September 2015. One of the ultimate goals is to increase graduation rates, Thomarie said.

Board member Kathy Dougherty said the district should always stretch its goals further and “never” be satisfied.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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