On Wednesday, May 31st, the Bata Shoe Museum generously hosted the DAREarts Toronto Spring grade 8 class graduation celebration. Over 8 weeks of DAREarts Days, 27 Grade 8 delegates had explored identity and leadership through music, drama, dance, literature and visual art.
Laura MacKinnon, DAREarts Lead Teacher, welcomed the audience of families, teachers, DAREarts supporters and community leaders. Annie Appleby, TDSB Central Superintendent & DAREarts Director, spoke on behalf of the TDSB. The class then began their presentation: two spoken word poems they created with SPIN El Poeta at DAIS, two drama pieces created with Little Black Afro Theatre, a short film created at TIFF, a dance learned with Fly Lady Di, and a song they wrote with Sheldon De Souza. Self-portraits they painted with youth artist Ricky Schaede vibrantly reflected their identities on the walls.
Each DAREarts graduate received a medallion. The William Stevenson Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by Emmy-award winning producer Monika Jensen-Stevenson, went to Valerie, whose poetry showed that, despite her shy demeanour, she has a strong voice. The James Westcott Award, presented by DAREarts supporter Nancy Westcott, went to Ezra, whose positivity and humour inspired the entire class. The Crichton Community Leadership Award, presented by retired principal and DAREarts supporter Eileen Crichton, went to DAREarts graduate and volunteer extraordinaire Dante Scholar to help him further his paralegal studies.
We’d like to extend a special thank you to Sheila Knox, Head of Education & Programming for the Bata Shoe Museum, for making this evening possible. We also thank our young volunteers Iris Benedikt, Elijah Brown, Alan Dunlop, Kiranpreet Kaur Bhangu, Patrik Montelibano, and Dante Scholar.
Over 150 students from 26 schools spanning Toronto’s downtown core to east Scarborough attended the spring program as DAREarts “delegates”. They were empowered with the job of going back to their respective schools after each DAREarts Day to peer-teach their classmates what they had learned.
Toronto participating schools this spring were: Brock PS, Cedarbrook PS, Chine Drive PS, Corvette JS, Cosburn MS, Earl Haig PS, Eastview PS, Equinox Holistic Alternative, Fairbank Memorial CS, George Webster ES, Gordon A. Brown MS, Jesse Ketchum PS, Joseph Brant PS, Niagara Street JPS, Pauline JPS, Queen Victoria PS, RH McGregor ES, Regent Heights PS, Roden PS, Samuel Hearne MS, Sloane PS, St. Andrew’s PS, Westwood MS, Willow Park JS & Winchester PS.
DAREarts thanks its supporters including National Supporter: Northbridge Insurance; Lead Supporters: Anne Livingston, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group and the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario; Education Partner: the TDSB; Grade 8 Class Sponsor: Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Photos courtesy of volunteer photographer Alan Dunlop.