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KIDS LEAP INTO ART Program encourages children to make exciting projects – QNS.com

KIDS LEAP INTO ART Program encourages children to make exciting projects

When the group of 30 students at P.S. 84 in Astoria finished making replicas of Tiffany lamps, their teacher Elizabeth O'Brien turned off all of the lights in the cafeteria. Then the students - mostly third and fourth graders with their siblings and parents - walked up to the front and flipped the switches on their lamps, sending spills of colored light over the walls of the lunchroom and onto the excited faces of the young art students.
&#8220It looked so shiny and beautiful, like rubies, sapphires and emeralds all together,” said fifth grader Usama Ehsma, remembering the evening art session.
The students, who participated in the Leap's (Learning Through an Expanded Arts Program) arts education programming, made the lamps from 20 oz. soda bottles, tissue paper, paint, and electrical wiring.
Leap has been organizing all kinds of student projects for more than 30 years citywide, said executive director Ila Lane Gross. Currently at work in over 300 public schools and other organizations, Leap is now running projects with more than 220,000 students and 8,600 teachers. Their students, who are tested one year after completing the program, have also shown a marked improvement in their reading skills in past years, Gross said.
For the students of P.S. 84 Steinway School in Astoria, the lamps project was one of three creative endeavors that they completed during the three-month long program, which allowed parents and siblings who also attended P.S. 84 to participate in the evening classes. With the help of their in-house art teacher Elizabeth Rosenberry, the kids also made sculptures reminiscent of Alexander Calder and silkscreen silhouettes in the style of Andy Warhol's paintings.
On Tuesday, September 19, the students along with several parents and their teacher visited the Citigroup building, where several of their art projects hung in display cases in the building's lobby along with crafts from seven schools in three other boroughs.
&#8220Do you like seeing your artwork in the case?” Rosenberry asked the group of students who crowded around the six art display windows - faces and fingers pressed against the glass.
&#8220Yes, yes,” the swarm of kids yelled back, pointing to their favorites pieces and getting a glimpse at the work of other children.
The exhibit, which will close on Thursday, September 28, is the sixth annual show to be displayed in the building, on 44th Drive and Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.
&#8220More than just covering the walls, we've been able to cover the ceilings,” said Ellen Quinn, a spokesperson for the building, pointing to stained glass panels made by kindergartners hanging from ceiling panels in the lobby's atrium.
Sylvie Schlein's group of kindergarten through second-grade students at P.S. 91K in Brooklyn learned about local birds over the course of one year and then used watercolors to paint their subject in their natural habitats.
&#8220The Calder project was really my favorite,” Rosenberry said, adding that her students spent hours arranging the sculptures, which look somewhat like mobiles, and connecting the tiny cardboard pieces.
Fifth grader Christopher Snats liked painting the lamps with vibrant and impressionistic swirl patterns - letting the color seep through one layer of paper without getting the actual lampshade damp with paint.
Third grader Tamara Astudillo liked coloring a black and white photo of herself and brother, Jonathan, who also was in the class, with neon pink and peach swaths of color, the two grinning with toothy smiles.
Anggie Budhis, who participated in the Leap program with her daughter, Despina, a fourth grader, and son, Jimmy, a first grader, said that her kids did the projects with either one or both parents during most of the evening sessions. Her daughter made a silkscreen self-portrait complete with glasses and braids.
Budhis, who had also attended P.S. 84 as a child, said that she remembered when one of her art projects hung in a local bank. At the time, her mother beamed with pride over her daughter's accomplishment, and now she feels a similar sense of pleasure over her own two children.
&#8220It's so different, but also very much the same,” she said.

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