CHELSEA, Mass. – When the afternoon of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day arrives in January, a group of Chelsea Public Schools (CPS) students will take the stage at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts for the 20th annual MLK Tribute Concert, “Becoming King”. This opportunity is available for students through a new partnership between CPS and the Boston Children’s Chorus (BCC), a first-of-its-kind dynamic in Chelsea that brings BCC choral instructors into Chelsea schools to create an after-school chorus.
The chorus will rehearse at the Mary C. Burke Elementary Complex where students from the Berkowitz, Hooks, Kelly and Sokolowski Schools comprise the first CPS-BCC chorus. Students and BCC instructors will meet every Thursday after school at the Elementary Complex (three rehearsals have already occurred) leading up to the concert in January. The CPS-BCC students will also perform a concert for families and friends in Chelsea in February.
This work aligns with the Priority Items as identified in the current five-year CPS Strategic Plan for Improving Teaching and Learning for Every Student, Every Day: Bridge to Success 2.0. CPS has dedicated itself to increasing access to engaging and enriching opportunities for all students, such as this one with BCC. Involving community organizations like BCC improves both the educational and after-school experience for our students.
"I am thrilled about this partnership! To see the vision come to life is absolutely amazing. I am grateful that our students will get to experience the power and joy of music after school!" commented CPS Superintendent Dr. Almi G. Abeyta.
The development of the CPS-BCC partnership has been ongoing since last school year. Staff members from CPS, including Dr. Abeyta, Equity, Diversity, & Excellence Officer Dr. Aaron T. Jennings and Director of Extended Learning Malik Howshan, worked with BCC staff including Executive Director Andrés Holder to organize, plan and implement the chorus program. The CPS team worked to secure funding for the program, obtaining a grant from the Hestia Fund.
"As an immigrant to this country, and one who was able to use my voice and talents through music from a young age, I am thrilled for Boston Children's Chorus to be serving in Chelsea. Our collaboration with the fantastic team at Chelsea Public Schools will be a turning point for Boston Children's Chorus, one that will allow our institution to learn how to best serve the needs of young, bright, and talented people in even deeper ways,” said Holder. “We are fortunate to have an excellent partner in Chelsea Public Schools and look forward to many years of collaboration."
“We are thrilled to have been able to build a partnership with the Boston's Children's Chorus and CPS. It is truly wonderful for our elementary students to have an additional opportunity of after school enrichment with an organization that prides itself on excellence in supporting and connecting Greater Boston's local youth and diverse communities,” commented Extended Learning Coordinator Malik Howshan.
Since last school year, CPS has both expanded existing relationships with community providers and added new partnerships like BCC to increase opportunities after school for all. Organizations such as For Kids Only, Penn State/YES Engineering, Soccer without Borders and others are examples of CPS partnerships that provide valuable experiences for students and have enhanced the enrichment of CPS after school programs.