Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This is Beautiful.

After eight weeks of practice, followed by an impressive performance in front of their entire school, a group of middle school kids believed they could fly.

Most in the group had never sung publicly before, yet they energized a room full of students and teachers with the school’s first-ever a cappella concert at Elm City College Prep Middle in New Haven, CT.

Check out an awesome video about the program, here.

This remarkable achievement was made possible by an unusual collaboration among Elm City Middle, The Duke’s Men of Yale, and the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School.

Elm City College Prep Middle, an Achievement First charter school, educates around two hundred fifty students in grades five through eight. Selected by blind lottery, 99 percent of Elm City students are Black or Latino, and 75 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch. Elm City seeks to “prepare students for success in college and in life.’ Until the Duke’s Men came along, Elm City Middle did not have music as part of its program.

The Duke’s Men’s relationship with Elm City Middle grew out of their performance at the conference on the Future of Diversity and Opportunity in Higher Education in December 2008. As part of the agreement to hire the Duke’s Men to entertain at the conference, the Center asked the Duke’s Men to create a partnership with a school in New Haven. The Duke’s Men took up this commitment with great enthusiasm. Twice a week after school, college students from the Duke’s Men gave a group of Elm City middle school students their first taste of college a cappella. By the end of 8 weeks, a new group was born – the Elm City Kool-Aid.

This collaboration provided an opportunity for both the pupils at Elm City and the students at Yale to create a powerful bond. Through their shared passion for music, the experience connected the kids to each other and to a group of “cool” college students. The middle schoolers had the chance to learn and have fun with each other and their successful college neighbors. In the process, they developed new self-expression and self-confidence. They also saw college in a new light. It was more than the fulfillment of the community’s expectations. It could be time to discover their voice, pursue their passions and have fun in the process! The Yale students connected with a world beyond the classroom and felt a deep satisfaction in making a difference in their community.

Amistad Academy 10th Anniversary: Elm City College Prep A Capella Ensemble with the Yale Duke's Men:

This was a project of The Center for Institutional and Social Change, housed at Columbia Law School. Soooo cool!

The Center works primarily through projects in different institutional settings, such as higher education, low-wage work, criminal justice, and housing. Each of the projects brings together creative and committed researchers, practitioners, and students to address problems involving structural inequality, and to do so through examining innovation. The projects conduct interdisciplinary studies, develop research/practice networks, and communicate their learning through publications, websites, educational programs, workshops and conferences. The Center uses this project-based work to develop cross-cutting frames, strategies and methodologies that can be used by researchers, practitioners, and policy makers seeking to understand how to advance inclusion and public problem solving through institutional transformation.

source: Building Bridges Through A Cappella, Posted by Susan Sturm, May 01, 2009 12:00 AM.

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