News


    1. LITERACY THROUGH ART

      STUDENT PLAYWRIGHTS' ROUNDTABLE

      As part of the LEAP OnStage program, student playwrights from 10 New York City public middle and high schools had the opportunity to participate in a Playwright's Roundtable at the iconic theatrical publishing company Samuel French, Inc. LEAP students met with Crystal Skillman, author of Geek, Cut and King Kirby and engaged in a discussion about playwriting, character development and various aspects of the publishing process.

      LEAP OnStage is a comprehensive playwriting residency that immerses young people in the immediacy of storytelling, linear thinking and creative expression. Each year, more than 600 students in 10 schools participate in this year-long playwriting, play production and performance program. Students write 10-minute plays and one student finalist from each school is selected to participate in the Playwrights’ Roundtable. The 10 finalists also have their plays fully staged and performed by their peers on a professional stage at a two-day LEAP OnStage Playwrights' Celebration and their work is published in an anthology by Samuel French, Inc.
       
      Through this program, students improve literacy, communication and collaboration skills, gain an understanding of all aspects of theater and hone their artistic talents on multiple levels. Furthermore, students are introduced to the impact of theater as an art form and the thrill of live performance. The plays written by students address issues that are important to them, their communities and the world, and they learn how acting, writing or directing can be a vehicle for expression and social action. This year’s student plays span a variety of topics and genres as evident in the titles- There’s Always Another Chance, My Own Skin and Rainbow Love.

      LEAP’s K-2 students in the Bronx showcased vibrant, creative works that connected art with academics as part of LEAP’s Active Learning Leads to Literacy (ALLL) program. To prepare for the K-2 art show, these students explored the continents and perspective drawing while building vocabulary and strengthening critical thinking skills. The art exhibit featured a wide range of work including self-portraits and renditions of museum paintings to personal interpretations of the Statue of Liberty.

      LEAP's ALLL program is nationally recognized and uses drama, visual art, music, creative movement, games and storytelling to improve literacy skills of K-8 students. This program has been proven to help 87% of K-2 participants outperform their peers on over 23 tested literacy skills. This year, the ALLL program is being conducted in 10 schools citywide serving 1,300 students. LEAP teaching artist Suzanne Demarco described the ALLL program as a great way to “see the progressions of student work and to see the students grow.” Through projects such as creating a "voting game to show how choice matters," or making Mayan masks,” ALLL’s multisensory arts-based teaching strategies help students explore literacy skills while engaging in the academic curriculum and being creative.
       
      As part of the program, students visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art where they can sit and sketch popular paintings from artists they learned about such as Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock or Pablo Picasso. After the sketching process, students practice their writing and reading skills by crafting captions for their works.


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      On Thursday, March 30, LEAP's Bronx afterschool students moderated “Women’s Suffrage Forum,” a panel discussion with prominent women leaders and social activists to illuminate the women's suffrage movement and the struggle within the struggle for women of color. This event is part of LEAP's Women's Voices: Untold Stories program.

      Six student moderators led a three-part program that covered topics including women’s suffrage history, women and activism, and intersectionality with a focus on the unique struggle of women of color. Deirdre Cooper-Owens, PhD (Assistant Professor of History, Queens College, CUNY), Laura Richmond (member of the socially-conscious theater group Girl Be Heard), Jessica Peñaranda (women's rights activist) and Tamara Fleming (Founder of Expoz(HER) and Co-Founder of FEMWORKS) served as panelists and discussed issues ranging from Ida B. Wells’ fight for equality to colorism to how the power of art can affect social change.

      In addition, there were artistic performances at the event including a touching poetry reading, a compelling step team presentation, the debut of an original song about women’s suffrage and an emotive interpretive dance piece performed by a professional ensemble. Members of LEAP's cheerleading team also engaged in a silent protest where they stood in solidarity for women's rights. The combination of artistic performances and intellectual discussion created a unique and community-oriented atmosphere throughout the event that left the audience feeling inspired to engage with these issues in their own lives. The evening concluded with Laura Richmond reciting a moving, original spoken word piece.
       




      EXPLORING WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE  

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    1. Thank you to all who came out and supported NYC students at the kick-off of the largest student art exhibition in NYC parks history! The Public Art Student Kick-off Event at Union Square Park (south plaza along 14th Street) happened on Tuesday, May 16th at 11:30 AM, and brought together students from 10 schools citywide who unveiled their large scale issue-based artworks (cafeteria table murals) that addressed a wide range of social issues---from gender inequality and child abuse, 
      to cyberbullying and animal endangerment. ​

      This student exhibition was developed in cooperation with NYC Parks, and is entitled “A View From the Lunchroom: Students Bringing Issues to the Table.” Starting in June, the 10 art tables will be installed in NYC parks citywide near each participating school for a three month summer exhibition (June-August 2017).

      Now in its 10th year, LEAP’s Public Art Program empowers students to have a voice in their communities and speak out on critical community issues through the creation and public exhibition of art in NYC parks. 
      During this year-long program, students from 10 schools met with distinguished artists to learn about their life and work. This year’s guest artists included Christo, Daze, Nancy Chunn, Federico Solmi, Stephen Powers, Julie Heffernan, George Boorujy, Maia Cruz Palileo, Risa Puno, and Andre Rubin.





      PUBLIC ART STUDENT EXHIBIT KICK-OFF 

      LEAP STUDENT WINS NAT'L COMPETITION

      On May 1, LEAP theater student Sarah Rodriguez (pictured far right), a high school senior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, won first place in the National August Wilson Monologue Competition!  

      Sarah is part of LEAP’s August Wilson Program which serves over 500 high school students and introduces them to the life and work of renowned 

      playwright August Wilson.

      The year-long program is facilitated by LEAP teaching artists and theater professionals who help students develop acting skills and performance techniques while exploring Wilson’s Century Cycle, a series of plays that chronicle the African-American experience in the 20th Century. Sarah came in first place at LEAP’s NYC August Wilson Competition in March and went on to compete against students from eight other cities at the national competition at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway.

      Sarah performed a monologue as the character Rose from Wilson’s award-winning play and movie Fences. After graduating high school, Sarah plans to go on to college and work towards a BFA in Acting.
       
      The National August Wilson Monologue Competition was produced by Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theaters.



       STUDENTS HELP SAVE THE PLANET

      LEAP students are working hard to repair the earth! At this year’s "Car Free Earth Day," an Earth Day inspired event where New Yorkers are encouraged to live green and learn about their role in environmental sustainability, LEAP students shared their love of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) with the public at their youth-led interactive booth.

      The booth highlights student work from LEAP's Afterschool Program that marries   
      technology and creativity to problem solve the unique ecological challenges of the 21st 

      Century. Students studied surface rainwater runoff created by urbanization and created interactive 3-D green rooftop designs to solve the problem.

      LEAP Afterschool students were able to build these green rooftop prototypes through collaboration with the New York City Department of Design and Construction Engineering Instructors.
      The LEAP booth was featured in Manhattan’s Car Free Day Uptown on 38th Street. During the day, Broadway was closed from 14th Street to 42nd street for biking, skating, walking, and other environmentally-friendly transit. At the booth, current LEAP students and LEAP High School Mentors spoke to the public about STEAM learning, environmental consciousness, and how much they loved LEAP!

       
  1. Students from across the city presented their original 10-minute plays at the LEAP OnStage Playwright’s Celebration on May 31st and June 1st hosted by TV, Film, and Broadway Actor Tanesha Gary. The two-day event took place at The Pearl Theatre on 42nd Street and all works touched on the theme of “Reflections on Courage and Confidence.” The plays, written by middle and high school students from 10 schools, marked the final component the year-long LEAP OnStage program. 
     
    This program immerses students in a series of intensive classroom workshops that explores topics such as playwriting, acting, directing, and stage managing. During the program, students meet with Broadway professionals. This year’s Guest Artists included Tony nominee John Cariani ("Fiddler on the Roof" and "Something Rotten"), Q Smith (star of this year's Tony-nominated musical "Come From Away"), Tony Chiroldes (original cast member, "In the Heights"), Terry Berliner (director, writer, and former resident director of "The Lion King") and Brad Bass (original cast member of "Memphis," as well as cast of "Wicked" and "Jersey Boys"). In addition, Samuel French, Inc. continued its partnership with LEAP and printed the 10 student works in a anthology and hosted a Playwright’s Roundtable with playwright Crystal Skillman.




    LEAP STUDENT PLAYS PREMIERED ON PROFESSIONAL STAGE  

    BRONX STUDENTS HIGHLIGHT OF WOMEN OF COLOR IN THE WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT

    LEAP’s Bronx afterschool students from five schools came together on June 6th to present a multidisciplinary performance that highlighted the stories of women of color in the Women’s Suffrage Movement.  The full-length, student-led work, entitled 
    The Case of the Missing Suffragist,” combined dramatic narrative, cultural dance, spoken word, interpretive dance, and live music to educate, inform, and inspire the student audience of over 250 Bronx middle school students. Eighth-grade student performer Nariana R. from Jordan L. Mott J.H.S 22X said, “Something I want the audience to learn from our show is that women’s suffrage wasn’t just one person. The movement was a variety of tons and tons of women from the North, the South, and the East.” After the performance, Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of suffragette Ida B. Wells, spoke to the students about the importance of telling their own stories and standing up for what they believe in. 
        
    This event was part of LEAP’s Women’s Voices: Untold Stories program in which students interviewed prominent and diverse women about how suffrage frames their experiences and hosted a youth-led panel event where students discussed the challenges, experiences, and achievements diverse women gained throughout history. The multidisciplinary performance was the major women of color who were instrumental leaders in the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

    STUDENT INVENTORS PITCH THEIR PRODUCTS TO CORPORATE PROFESSIONALS 

    On May 12th, elementary school students presented their inventions and business ideas at LEAP’s Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs Fair held at Google’s NYC Campus. Fourth and fifth graders from Horace E. Greene P.S. 45K and Bensonhurst School P.S. 128K in Brooklyn, and Merrick Academy 704Q in Queens brought prototypes, displays, marketing materials, business cards, and developed elevator pitches for their products--- all which were marketed as unique solutions to community problems. This event was a culmination of LEAP’s year-long Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs program, a STEAM program for 4th and 5th graders.

    Projects at the Fair included the “Safe Gate,” a pedestrian safety venture that prevents jaywalking by providing walkers with fun games to play while waiting for the light to change; the “Pet Roley Rollers,” a pet carrying case that is controlled by a wireless remote; and the “The Mood Changer,” an invention that gauges the user’s mood and provides a tailored toy to brighten their day.

    The Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs Fair included a short program, emceed by NBC Anchor Michael Gargiulo, that highlighted student work and awarded certificates and prizes to the “Most Persuasive” and “Most Innovative” projects, as well as the project with the “Best Brand.” Winners were chosen by a ballot vote completed by both the corporate attendees and the students, and each winner received a one-month subscription to Kiwi Crate, a service that delivers “fun, hands-on STEAM projects” to students’ homes. The event was hosted by Google, Black Rock, and Digital Reality.