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Paul Hillman

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Madison Park School Celebrates World Peace Day

Madison Park School celebrated World Peace Day on Friday, September 21, 2007, with music, dancing, and visual arts exhibition. The project was conceived the year before following the Gardening project and the ordering of a Peace Pole for Madison Park garden.


Planting at the Diversity Garden

These activities were facilitated by Hugo Medina, Visual arts teacher at Madison Park, and Melanie Ohm, cofounder of the Cultural Arts Coalition. Principal Richard Ramos was instrumental in supporting and promoting all of the efforts to bring the Envisioning Peace Project to Park School.


Principal Richard Ramos

The final celebration started at 8:00 AM in the gym with the sounds of African drums.



Fourth and fifth grade students performed as endangered animals of the Brazilian rain forest complete with masks they’d created.



Origami cranes folded by the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students also were displayed as part of the celebration. In the center of the gym was the Peace Pole with the words "May Peace Prevail on the Earth" in 12 languages as well as Braille.



During the festivities, a very special appearance was made by a twelve foot stilt walker, who engaged the audience in interactive dance and astonishment.



For the first five weeks of the school year, Park School hosted a variety of artists in residence to work with the students in order to put this program in place. Planning for this artist in residency program had been coordinated by Hugo and judy butzine, Cultural Arts Coalition. The over all theme was Envisioning Peace. This literature based, multidisciplinary curriculum was funded in part by educational grants from The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Some of the matching funds was provided by the Cultural Arts Coalition.

African drummer Keith Johnson taught the history of the African culture, revealing artistic expression as a way of surviving years of suppression.


His classes experienced the culture’s dress, music, and dance. Mr. Johnson’s class was a great way to get the students interested in the thematic design of the five week lesson.



Mask artist Carmen DeNovais, a native of Brazil, had the students each make a mask representing an endangered animal of the Brazilian rain forest.


This directly correlated with the curriculum started by Keith Johnson that represented African slaves, who were brought to work on the sugar plantations in Brazil during the 17th century. While working on creating various masks, the students learned songs celebrated by the African slaves in Brazil.


For the final two weeks of the program, Opendance director Michele Ceballos Michot transformed the animals' energy into dance.


She worked with fourth and fifth grade students to interpret the movement of the various animals of the Brazilian rain forest.


During the culminating celebration, the students performed brilliantly with other classes for a full audience of students, parents, school administrators, teachers and guests. The interpretation by the students was radiant and captivating. Throughout the five week period, Mrs. Beverly Robb, Park’s art teacher, taught her middle school students how to create origami cranes adorned with beads. In the language arts classes, students read the story of Sadako. In the Japanese story of Sadako, cranes are a sign of peace.


Students also added beads as their intentions for peace and to Release Their Fears.


judy butzine, cofounder of Cultural Arts Coallition, came in and spent time with the youth to present the art history lesson on beads. It is believed by anthropologists that beads are the first material forms that represented tangible forms of abstract thinking. These beads, as a physical form, objectifying values, ideas, and beliefs are thought to predate language as a means to communicate one with another.


Students in the third through the fifth grades also read Alejandro's Gift, illustrated by Sylvia Long, an Arizona artist, to begin the process of understanding that we are interconnected to all life. The celebration took place in the Madison Park Gymnasium. Over 800 community members took part in the school-wide celebration. There were two assemblies to meet the needs of everyone who actively participated in this day’s celebrations. The school thanked all of the artists for their contributions to this amazing program. It was an unforgettable occurance for those who were a part of the experience.


After the celebration Mr. Ramos surveyed several teachers to determine the success of the program from the outlined objectives. One teacher commented, "The student dialogue about the projects was great." A second teacher shared, "This helped the students connect to the idea of expressing themselves through music and dance. They also learned about various African cultures."


The whole five week event was invaluable to the students, parents and teachers of the Madison Park School and surrounding community.

This ongoing network process between the educational community, artists, arts funding sources and cultural coalitions who build partnerships is essential. Teachers and administrators already under the pressure of a long work day and literacy testing find it impossible to take the time to make these additional arts activities available for their students.


One of the primary goals of the Cultural Arts Coalition is to provide spaces and opportunities for persons to engage in dialogue, experiences, and research that expand the definition and understanding of the role of the arts in enriching our daily lives in community and academic settings.

These images document the success of this kind of programming that provides background for policy making, building a strong infrastructure for the arts in community settings.


Please note that the Envisioning Peace curriculum adheres to the Cultural Arts Coalition's Nine Guiding Practices for Community Arts.

Cultural Arts Coalition Nine Guiding Practices for Community Arts

When using these guiding practices for building and evaluating programming, it is important to understand that many, but not all of these practices, will be present in a single project. Over the course of a longer program or initiative, all of these practices may be evident in different aspects of the work. Please note that this is also a work in progress and is expected to transform through our dialogs about community arts practice. The Nine Guiding Practices are the result of a public participation process involving artists, educators, and community activists during 2005-2006 in Arizona.

Practice One: Participant Centered and Inclusive of All Ages and People. Programming is responsive to, even directed or initiated by, the participant community.

Practice Two: Issue or Theme Driven. Programming deals with themes that have a universal focus and promote dialogue and/or creating a rich, interdisciplinary learning experience in safe community settings.

Practice Three: Experiential and Expressive. The environmental setting, the sense of place, engages children and/or adults in active learning and participation, drawing on a full range of communicative media: storytelling, writing, literature, dance or movement, theatre, music and visual arts.

Practice Four: Holistic and Authentic. Participants encounter ideas, events and materials in meaningful contexts with complex, life lessons at the heart of the learning process.

Practice Five: Reflective and Evaluative. Arts programming provides opportunities and vehicles for participants to reflect on feelings, thoughts and new information, as well as a means for community organizers and participants to evaluate themselves, others and the effectiveness of the process.

Practice Six: Social, Collaborative and Democratic. Programming encourages learning in a social-cultural context, preferring cooperative over competitive approaches to achieving goals and creating a shared space for meaningful work with a collective purpose. It is about understanding self in relation to others and community.

Practice Seven: Developmentally Appropriate. All programming is age appropriate, following child and adult development guidelines and providing learning environments that enable all participants to create connections between content areas and understand context as well as absorb content. Learning experiences involve investigative processes, self-monitoring and problem-solving skills that engage higher-order thinking.

Practice Eight: Relationship Oriented. Relationship building and processes have priority over projects and products in the development, implementation and evaluation of community arts work.

Practice Nine: Celebrative. Participants are recognized and honored both individually and collectively through community celebrations.