On Saturday, June 9th, Greenpoint put its best foot forward at PS 110’s fourth annual Walkathon. Parents, students, local officials and friends of the school marched down to McGolrick Park to participate in a day of games, food and music. More than just a walk in the park, the festival also served as a crucial fundraiser for PS 110’s highly popular Arts program.
PS 110 Parent Coordinator Tara Atson started the event in 2009 when severe citywide budget cuts threatened to end her school’s art residencies. Since then, the school community has worked tirelessly to insure a high level of arts education despite economic constraints. “Given the fiscal climate in our city, everybody’s had to tighten their belts,” admitted Principal Anna Cano Amato. “But because of our commitment to the arts, we’ve come up with creative ways to support our program, one of which is the fundraising.”
With $5-6,000 needed for each grade, plenty of brainstorming was needed and promptly delivered. Last year, ExxonMobil Community Affairs Advisor Melissa Lorenzana dedicated her NYC Marathon run to PS 110, offering a $10,000 matching grant from her company if the school raised that amount by November 3rd. Not only was that goal reached, at a school-wide pep-rally for Lorenzana, Gina Argento of Broadway Stages surprised both Amato and Atson with an additional donation, bringing to $24,000 the total amount raised for the arts program and supplies. This past Wednesday, PS 110 celebrated “Night of the Arts”, at which students showcased what they learned from this year’s arts residencies with storytelling from pre-school and Kindergarten, African drumming from the first grade, a production of the Lion King from the second and third, and ballroom dancing from the fourth.
With the funds raised at the Walkathon, Amato hopes to continue these activities, while showcasing the central role of creativity in a well-rounded education. “[The Walkathon] raises not only money, but also raises awareness of the importance of the arts in the lives of our children. It speaks to our school motto of ‘Growing Hearts and Minds.’”
Several neighborhood businesses donated time and materials to the students. After a brisk walk around the park, children learned something new from several organizations, such as a few words of French from Bonjour New York, judo from Williamsburg Brazilian Jui Jitsu, arts and crafts from City Sculpting, how to build instruments from PLAY, and yoga instruction from Anka of Kundalim Yoga East. The Greenpoint Y, which held an open house for its summer camps, was on hand with balloons and hula hoops. Trey Files, one of this year’s artists in residence, brought along his band, Ethos Percussion Group to show the students how to play Western African instruments. “What’s very impressive is the value PS 110 puts on the arts,” said Files. “The kids were very responsive. In some cultures, a musical performance is less a concert and much more of a community event, and now I feel like a part of the PS 110 community.”
Raffle prizes were donated by local businesses, ranging from a L’Occitane gift basket and Zumba classes at WMAAC to year-long memberships at the Greenpoint Y. Other donors included Fada, Smoochie Baby, Mini Jack, De-Wine Spot, Nars and the Bedford Cheese Shop.
Walkathon co-organizer Amy Chalkley was glad to see the outpour of civic support. “Anyone who was available was ready to come. We have an amazing community that really stepped up to help the school and our arts program.” Co-organizer Caroline Greenwood agreed, “Our community of parents got the donations by word of mouth and by going to the corporations.” As of press time, the event had raised $5,000.
Public officials present at the event were grateful for all the work PS 110 has done for Greenpoint, especially through events devoted to the upkeep of McGolrick Park. “PS 110 understands how important the park is,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol. “After all, they’re right across the street.”
“It’s wonderful to see so many parents and residents raising funds to support their terrific arts program,” said District Leader Lincoln Restler. “PS 110 has cultivated a remarkable sense of community.”