Breaking Borders provides cultural and arts exchange

July 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

By Hilary Nelson

For two days this past spring, the distance between Rogers Park and Arlington Heights didn’t seem so great for young students from two local schools.

Why? The Arts.

Metropolis Performing Arts Centre’s Breaking Borders program, which focuses on bringing together kids from urban and suburban schools using the performing arts, concluded its program in May with two assemblies.

Students in 3rd-5th grade from Jordan Community School in Rogers Park traveled to Arlington Heights to visit their peers at Ivy Hill Elementary in Arlington Heights on May 5. Ivy Hill returned the favor on May 10. Prior to those assemblies, two teaching artists went to each school once per week for 10 weeks and led students through drama, improvisation, music, and movement exercises. At the assemblies, the students then demonstrated what they learned with each other through collaborative exercises.

“Our students were enthusiastic about the Breaking Borders experience,” said Kristy Csensich, Principal at Ivy Hill School. “They learned to express their thoughts and feelings through creative dramatics. Students used their imaginations and movement to collaboratively explore the performing arts. Our students entered the program with a lot of different expectations and background experiences, and I think they left the program with new confidence, new friendships and for some, a new-found interest and love of the performing arts.”

Jordan Administrator Jose Zayas was a facilitator between Jordan, the after-school program Communities in Schools of Chicago, and Metropolis. He described the program as a very positive experience for both sets of students. “Jordan students learned about the performing arts and their ability to discover their voice, energy and motivation to explore their talents in the performing arts,” he said. “The exchange was well-received by both schools. It provided an opportunity to visit each other’s community and school and share their gifts that they learned from the Breaking Borders program.”

Proceeds from the Metropolis Sings Broadway show in February allowed Metropolis to pair these schools together and provide all the students with a unique experience – exposing them to each other and the arts. “Ivy Hill students really enjoyed the exchanges with the students from Jordan Community School,” Csensich said. “For our students, spending a day at Jordan and in the Rogers Park neighborhood was a very exciting experience. They were thrilled to visit another school and to draw comparisons between the two schools. The kids really enjoyed sharing their experiences with one another and working together and would love to continue to build relationships with one another.”

Added Zayas: “The Jordan participants benefitted tremendously in learning about self-expression through lessons provided by the adult leaders. Participants learned how to interact with each other and support the group’s interest in the performing arts. The adult leaders also helped guide the group energy into productive use of self.”

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