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"Diversity Thru Art" puts Josiah Quincy Elementary School on the map

By Thomas Carroll
On April 5, 2012

The "Diversity Thru Art" (DTA) program at Josiah Quincy Elementary School (JQES) has put the school on the map in the Boston Public School system. So much so that, according to Vice Principal Simon Ho, the school district is working on an art program for all schools emulating DTA.

Ho said this is an innovative program that allows the diverse student body of JQES, located at 885 Washington St., to express themselves and their cultural backgrounds to their classmates through their own personal artwork.

"We want to celebrate diversity in the classes; use diversity as a medium for art," said Ho. "Students can talk about their background."

Only a few months ago, JQES did not even have a visual arts program. Sara Demeter, a parent of a student in K2 at JQES, took notice and wanted to make a change.

"My son started this year. It came as a surprise to me that they don't have a visual arts teacher but they have a good music program," Demeter said. "I and another parent named Elizabeth McGarry spearheaded the art committee at JQES to start a grassroots effort to bring back visual art."

Demeter has a background in visual arts. She is a member of the Mercantile Bank Art Committee and has taken art classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts over the past two years.

Since early March, Demeter, McGarry, and other parents have been collaborating with teachers at JQES to make DTA successful for the students. Parent volunteers have been coming into the classes and helping the students with their artwork. According to Ho, the work the students are producing is noteworthy.

"We have a family from Russia. She organized a class to talk about art in Russia as well as the country's geography and food. The students are learning so much."

JQES will be having an exhibition for the DTA program on Friday, April 27 in the JQES gymnasium. Those in attendance will be encouraged to purchase student work, with all the proceeds going towards an afterschool arts program at JQES.

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