PORT CHESTER, N.Y. Port Chester students learned through a day of alternative art-inspired programming on Wednesday as the school district celebrated National Arts in the School day.
Thanks to the efforts of the Port Chester Council for the Arts, for the past four years Port Chester has participated in the nationwide effort to demonstrate the importance of using art in education.
Board of education member and PCCFA music instructor Carolee Brakewood spoke about the importance of integrating arts into the classroom.
"The arts develop brain functions required for math, reading, critical thinking and language acquisition," Brakewood said. "But perhaps more importantly, the arts offer an outlet for creativity, personal expression and community involvement. Arts education is a critical component of the development of the whole child."
On Wednesday, students in all six of the district's public schools participated in a variety of artistic programming. Port Chester Middle School students learned about the early history of the village through the school's "History through the Arts" program directed by Carol Terenzi.
Paper models of historic monuments and buildings around Port Chester, built by the schools eighth-grade students, were on display as part of the program. Among the models created by students were the Lifesaver building, Port Chester High School and the Spanish-American War monument.
"We gave it to the kids and they just ran with it," Social studies teacher Brett Conetta said.
Seventh-grader David Jones talked about what the program taught him about his school and village.
"There's a lot of history in this town, there were so many murals in the post office I didn't know about," Jones said.
At Park Avenue school, fifth-grade students took part in a public speaking competition conducted by PCCFA Literacy Through the Arts (LTA) instructor Dana Ruston. Fifth-graders Danny Zagazeta and Madeline Loilaconi said that the eight-week course taught them a lot about public speaking.
"I learned that you have to be confident and that you shouldn't be nervous," said Zagazeta.
PCCFA representative Anne Brady said the program is intended to use the arts as a tool to alternatively teach students the core curriculum.
"The idea is to give recognition that you can teach through the arts," Brady said. "It allows teacher to use and showcase their creativity."
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