By Tom Momberg
The city’s SING! music program, a public high school tradition where students write, cast, rehearse, perform and compete in original musicals, will be expanded to 10 new schools—five of which are in Queens.
City Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced the expansion of the program Tuesday, supported by a $50,000 donation made by singer and songwriter Taylor Swift in partnership with the Fund for Public Schools in February.
The total cost of the program expansion is about $122,000, according to the DOE.
“SING! gives our high school students an opportunity to work with their peers, and create and execute a project from start to finish,” Fariña said in a statement. “This is a wonderful program for developing passions in the arts and for building school and community spirit.”
The idea behind SING! is to increase after-school and weekend student arts engagement in city schools, which is expanding this year to Bayside High School, Flushing High School, John Bowne High School in Flushing, Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village and Thomas Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Jamaica.
The 10 schools selected for the program expansion were pulled from a pool of 20 applicants from throughout the city. The proposals from each applying high school had to include plans to boost school spirit and student engagement, and describe how their shows would be aligned with the DOE’s Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts.
SING! was conceived of in 1947 by the late Brooklyn teacher Bella Lipson Tillis, who encouraged her students’ classes at Midwood High School to compete against one another through creative singing and acting. The competition rooted the idea for the 1989 movie with the same title and has since grown into a tradition among high schools across the city.
“SING! has provided unparalleled arts enrichment for my students at Midwood, and I am so happy that 10 new schools will be able to benefit from this opportunity,” SING! Supervisor Ernest Pysher said. “I look forward to working with educators and students at these schools as they implement their own unique SING! programs. Our students across the city have so much talent and passion, and I know these productions are going to be fantastic.”
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb