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Maroon Arts Group Brings Cultural Art to Students

 Students at Alpine Elementary working on cultural arts project

July 7, 2022 -- For many, the word ‘space’ conjures images of shooting stars and colorful cosmos. But, for Esmond Akwaboa and Raheem Farmer, two rising Ecole Kenwood 4th graders, the word takes on a different, tastier meaning.

The two were getting creative with visual artist Arris Cohen as he led a workshop where students painted ice cream cones with scoops in any flavor of their choosing. Akwaboa and Farmer’s flavor choice was out of this world, literally.

“It tastes like getting lost in space!” Akwaboa said when asked how their space-flavored ice cream tastes. “It’s probably very good,” Farmer added.

Cultural arts project

The art class is part of Columbus City Schools’ Summer Experience where, this week, Maroon Arts Group is at Alpine Elementary School. They’re hosting activities that immerse students in numerous artistic mediums - many with cultural ties.

In the gymnasium, a group of students learned about West African drums. BabaaRitah Clark, the founder of Akwaaba All Women’s Drum Group, taught them about rhythm.

“I like… to play… the drums… today,” Clark said, synching each phrase with a different movement. By partnering motion and lyrics, she hopes to give students a glimpse of how they can connect through music.

“We are all one people. We are connected,” Clark said. “I try to teach them things that show how they are connected to the planet and one another.”

Down the hall from the drums, a group of incoming first grade students worked to find their center by practicing yoga. Instructor LeRonya Edwards led them through multiple poses, many done in pairs.

The activity helped them work on their flexibility, but it also allowed them to focus on teamwork - students couldn’t do the poses alone.

The Alpine Elementary Building Coordinator Emily Velten said hands-on, collaborative events keep students engaged and enthusiastic about learning over the summer.

“[Events like these] make them want to come back to Summer Experience,” said Velten. “They’re excited.”

Akwaboa agrees. He talked about how much he enjoys science, but while working on his cosmic ice cream, he admitted the arts can also be “a little bit fun.” However, after thinking about his answer for a moment, he decided to change it and, with a grin, he added -

“Well.. a lot of fun!”