Ridgewood middle school students address important issues in citywide art exhibition

Photos by Anthony Giudice/QNS

Sixth-graders from I.S. 77 in Ridgewood have a message for everyone: child abuse and cyberbullying are never acceptable.

Over 60 students from the middle school participated in the Learning through an Expanded Arts Program‘s (LEAP) “A View From the Lunchroom Students Bringing Issues to the Table” art exhibit where they painted a lunchroom table with inspiring pictures and messages outlining the two community issues that they felt needed to be addressed. That table is now proudly displayed at Benninger Playground, and will remain there through August.

The tables — which were unveiled on Friday, June 9 — have been decorated with symbols of love and friendship, as the students wanted to let the victims of child abuse and cyberbullying know that I.S. 77 stands with them.

“My class wanted to let people know that child abuse is not fair to the kids,” said Jada Charriez, sixth-grader at I.S. 77. “I want to help the kids who are getting abused. The table is one thing, but letting them know that there are people who love them is important too.”

“I want people to know that cyberbullying is an issue that not a lot of people talk about,” said Omaris Perez, sixth-grader at I.S. 77. “When you are behind a screen it can be really constant.”

To combat the issue of child abuse, the students created symbols of love such as hearts and kind words on one side of their table. To address the issue of cyberbullying, the other side of the table has a poem written by the students to bullies letting them know that their words can have negative effects on others, as well as phone with nice text messages appearing on it to show that “a little nice in this world can go a long way,” Perez added.

“There is a lot going on in the community and in the school,” said Avani Patel, the LEAP teaching artist who helped the kids craft their artwork. “They want to be supportive of their friends so they made this beautiful table. They wanted to make a difference in the community.”

I.S. 77 was one of 10 schools citywide to participate in LEAP’s 10th annual student art exhibition, which is also the largest student exhibition in the history of NYC parks, and the very first to span all five boroughs.

P.S. 75 in Ridgewood was also chosen to participate in the program and have their table on view at Forest Park.