Thursday, November 16, 2017

Programming Spotlight: Pre-theater and Post-Theater Visits from the New Victory Theater

Stepping during a pre-theater visit on 11/6/17.

A gallery walk during a post-theater visit on 11/13/17.

On November 8th we teachers and our administrators took all of our students at Passages Academy--Belmont to the New Victory Theater to see Step Afrika’s The Migration: Reflections On Jacob Lawrence.  The performance blended step, jazz, and African choreography with jazz, African, and gospel music to bring panels from Jacob Lawrence’s essential Migration Series to life for a young audience.  When I asked students what they thought of the show one student, D., responded by telling me the next time I take her to a dance performance, it needs to be longer.  Presumably so that she may enjoy it all the more.

We weren’t able to take pictures inside the theater, but here are a couple of moments we captured of the New Victory’s excellent pre-theater and post-theater workshops provided by teaching artists Chad Beckim and Janet Onyenucheya.  Pre-theater workshops  included step dancing exercises which helped students identify what they would see and appreciate the depth of performers skill and preparation.  Post-theater workshops invited students to engage with Lawrence’s artwork and recreate poses from selected panels, and think about how it feels to experience the poses of the figures from the paintings.  Click here for more photos and more about the interdisciplinary collaboration--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Billie: A Memoir by Billie King

Growing up is always hard, but for Billie it was especially difficult. At the age of 10, she already has to protect her mother from her abusive father and learn the ugly truth about her always distant sister, Nia. One day Billie, her mom, and sister finally decide to leave it all behind and move to a new neighborhood, but that's when the real problems begin. Their new neighborhood is slowly changing from a decent place to live to a crack-infested ghetto and Billie's mom starts to spiral out of control. She's barely home and the days that she is home, she spends in her room sleeping, caring very little for Billie and Nia. This is Billie King’s story as she tries to find her way through life and grow up in the middle of a dysfunctional family, riddled with both physical and sexual abuse, drugs and poverty. Billie: A Memoir is a rough read; there are some detailed graphic scenes which make this book more suitable for mature high school readers. Students who enjoyed reading Random Family and Tweak should pick this one up. --Claudio Leon

King, Billie. Billie: A Memoir. Beverly Hills: PRK Publishing, 2014. Print.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Saving Marty by Paul Griffin

It takes a runt pig, Marty, for Lorenzo the protagonist in Paul Griffin’s latest novel, Saving Marty, to reveal his belief in the importance of friendship and the value he places on it.  Lorenzo, who is an eleven year old boy, lacks confidence in his abilities and social skills.  However, he has become overwhelmed by a fervent desire to defend and protect his pet pig, that pretends to be a dog, from his mother who wants to sell the pig for much needed cash.  Marty, who is more a friend than a pet, has helped Lorenzo fill a tremendous gap in his life left void by the loss of his father.
     Lorenzo knows Marty trusts and depends on him.  Marty’s reliance on Lorenzo has compelled him to guard and keep Marty from the butcher’s knife.  Lorenzo needs to use all his resources to find a way to save Marty.  Lorenzo has to find an immediate solution to save his pet, but his resources are very limited and he has a very short time.
This book will appeal to students in middle school, grades 6 - 8, looking for realistic stories. --Elaine Roberts

Griffin, Paul. Saving Marty. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Young Readers group, An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2017. Print.