It’s not unusual for students to raise money for charities such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, but at P.S. 41 they literally go the extra mile for their own arts program.
On Friday, students from the Bayside school held their annual walkathon for the arts at nearby Crocheron Park. The half hour walk was expected to raise up to $6,000 through sponsors the students had enlisted.
“This is something fun the students can do in the beautiful park across the street from the school,” said Principal Sari Latto. “The parents pay for a visiting artist, who comes to the school all year.”
Money raised primarily goes to fund a music and drama program and hire the visiting artist. This year, Alistair King has been working at the school through the Young Audiences residency program.
Latto credits P.S. 41’s music teacher, Jason Castoro, who she calls “so talented,” with fashioning the program every year with the visiting artist. Each grade level has six week sessions with King and Castoro.
“Each grade has a different theme and they put on a show, mostly song and dance, for the students and later for the parents,” the principal said. Themes can range from insects to ancient Egypt.
Castoro also participated in the walkathon, carrying his guitar and stopping to serenade the different classes along the circular route. Many students carried signs promoting the arts program.
“It’s wonderful to have the support for the arts,” Castoro said. “We are able to make magic happen because of it.”
The music teacher has worked at the school for seven years and believes the arts program has many benefits. “It gives the students an opportunity to tap into their talents, overcome shyness and develop leaders,” Castoro said.
Parent Barbara Bohn agrees. She has a youngster in kindergarten, who was an insect this year in the class program. “It promotes self esteem and is definitely a plus,” she said. “It keeps them wanting to learn.”
Mary Dulligan has children in the third and fourth grades at P.S. 41. She called the program amazing and well organized. “The music teacher is great and we need more of this kind of thing,” she said.
Students also decided to do something for other youngsters on Friday. They took part in Go Purple, a national program to bring awareness to the problem of children in homeless shelters.
Some students wore something purple to show their solidarity, but most contributed toiletries, such as shampoo and toothpaste and toys that are donated to the program.
Teacher Allan Osterweil’s fifth grade students are old enough to understand the plight of youngsters in homeless shelters and some of them wore purple T shirts. They donated soap, toothbrushes and toys.
Many of these fifth graders were members of the school’s winning Dancing Classrooms program, taking second place in the city ballroom dancing competition in February.