Hugo, focusing on a drawing
Aymara in art class
Karlo playing his guitar
Guitar and Recorder instructor Nineth
Brayan, second year guitar student
Hector, taking a break from drawing a 3 dimensional polar bear
Walking around the Center, if you didn’t know any better, you would think it’s already Christmas time. The music classes are practicing holiday songs, and you can hear “Jingle Bells” on the recorder drifting in through the Center windows all afternoon. The students quickly pass through the Center to get to their classrooms a few minutes early, ready to start right on-time and showing the admiration they have for their art and their teacher. They are students in the arts formation classes for children: guitar, music, drawing and painting, dance, and theatre.
The students are wrapping up the school year on a high note (literally!), and preparing for the year-end presentation. The music class is working on a piece for recorder called “La danza negra,” and they practice by going around the class and playing individually as well as playing as a group. Karlo, age 11, says that he loves the class because instructor Nineth Larios is always making it fun with games and jokes, but also has high expectations for them.They see the class as much more than just a fun afternoon. Eleven-year-old Brayan adds that he’s taking this class because “I like music. When I’m sad or angry, playing the guitar calms me down.” Both mention they want to keep taking music lessons after the class ends next month; Karlo wants to learn the piano and Brayan the violin.
Gerardo Hernández, the drawing and painting instructor, is teaching his students to draw three-dimensional animals. One student, Hugo, age 9, says he has always wanted to learn how to paint, and here he has learned to draw three-dimensional trains, cars, and fruit, whatever he wants! Nine year old Aymara chimes in that this class is the highlight of her week, because they don’t have art class in their regular school day. She loves that they get to work with watercolors, and she wants to be a teacher one day. Eleven-year-old Hector comments, “I’m in this class because I’m a good artist, and I want to improve my painting and drawing. When I’m older I want to be an architect, a painter, and play the guitar.” Recycling and sustainability have been an important theme at the Center in the past year, too, and the students have learned to find art in whatever they see around them. Gerardo adds that “these classes open up a world of opportunity and possibilities for the students, showing them that they have a hand in creating their own reality.”
Sonia Olivares, Training Area Coordinator, comments on the instructors´ teaching strategy, which involves engaging students through games that facilitate learning while incorporating the principles of the Center and violence prevention. “We want students to leave with a greater understanding of how to identify injustice in their own lives, and develop strong values of teamwork and solidarity, so that they can be allies for each other outside of the Center.” She also stresses that the end goal for students is that they express a desire to continue their musical and artistic education in the hope that they will continue on to the youth arts groups and keep participating in the Center’s programs.
It is incredible that, if the students have the desire and commitment, teachers and staff give their personal time to continue to tutor and help them grow in their art. Teachers like Gerardo and Nineth have gone above and beyond to meet the needs of advanced students by giving them more challenging assignments during the class sessions. The school year finishes at the end of November, but students are well aware that the staff are here for them as a resource, and that their relationship with the Center doesn’t end when the class does.