2004-03-19 / Community

PS 114 ‘Parents As Partners’ Cruise To Ellis Island

Participants from Ms. Valerie Mercuri’s third-grade class:  Bottom Row, L to R, Nikole Wolf, Betsy Carter, Kevin Ventura; Top Row, L to R—Nora Schreiber, Mark BasoaParticipants from Ms. Valerie Mercuri’s third-grade class: Bottom Row, L to R, Nikole Wolf, Betsy Carter, Kevin Ventura; Top Row, L to R—Nora Schreiber, Mark Basoa

The "Parents as Arts Partners Program" of PS 114Q launched its "Songs of our Ancestors" program on Saturday, February 28, 2004, with a spectacular boat cruise to the Ellis Island Museum of Immig ration. The brand-new Circle Line catamaran, "The Patriot,"was packed with 151 excited participants, including second and third graders, their families, several teachers, and PS 114Q Principal, Brian O’Connell. Blessed with exceptionally sunny and warm weather, the group sailed shortly after 10:00 a.m. from the U.S. Coast Guard Landing at Riis Park. A light continental breakfast was available to all, with items generously donated by Rockaway merchants. A narrator spoke to the children aboard the boat to give them a brief background about Amer ican immigration and what they might see at Ellis Island. Passengers then disembarked from the Patriot to proceed through a security check and connect with the Circle Line’s Ellis Island ferry service at Battery Park City. The ride from Rockaway to Lower Manhattan took less than 45 minutes!

After a quick look at the Statue of Liberty, the group proceeded to their stop on Ellis Island, where they entered the Museum of Immigration and were greeted by a U.S. Park Service ranger for a brief informational overview of Ellis Island and a screening of the film, "Island of Hope, Island of Tears." Participants then visited the exhibits at the museum, had an opportunity to purchase souvenirs and books on researching their ancestry, or spend some time finding the engraved names of their ancestors on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor outside the museum, or in the database of ship manifests available at the museum.

Following a quick ferry trip back to the Battery, everyone reboarded the Patriot for the return voyage to Rockaway. The children enjoyed a sing-along of patriotic songs, accompanied by the keyboard play ing of Scott Battaglia, Music Director of the Rock away Theatre Company, one of PS 114Q’s two partnering arts organizations for this grant program.

The grant program, designed to encourage parents to participate in their children’s arts education, awarded funds to approximately 150 schools through out the city this year, including PS 114Q. The program is made possible with public and private funds from The Center for Arts Education, which has awarded $2.45 million for these programs in the past six years.

On Wednesday evenings in March at the PS 114Q auditorium, participating students and their parents will be writing songs about their ancestors and heritage, using the visit to Ellis Island as their inspiration. The grant program will fund four such lyric and music-writing workshops to be conducted by Eli Yamin, a teaching artist affiliated with Young Aud ien ces of New York, PS 114Q’s other partnering arts organization for the program.

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