Leap Day came and went, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg has not moved on. He has proclaimed leap day, also known as February 29, as more than just an extra winter day every four years.
Bloomberg announced February 29 that the extra day in February will be known as LEAP Day, in honor of the Learning through Expanded Arts Program’s 34 years of service to the New York City public schools.
The program provides hands-on programs to more than 2 million students in grades kindergarten through 12 in different types of art.
“For more than 30 years, LEAP has shared music, dance, theater and visual arts with more than 2 million young New Yorkers, introducing them to new forms of expression and encouraging creative thinking,” Bloomberg said. “Programs like LEAP help students reach their fullest potential, and we are glad to continue our partnerships to ensure that arts are a part of our children’s education.”
School Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he congratulates LEAP for 34 years of service to New York’s students, teachers and staff.
“These programs have benefited millions of our students and we look forward to continuing this partnership for years to come,” Walcott said.
To celebrate, P.S. 132 and P.S. 219 in Morrisania and Claremont invited visitors to watch LEAP in action.
LEAP teaching artists Emily Provance and Joy Langer worked with Kindergarten students at P.S. 132 on LEAP day to use art-based strategies to learn language arts as part of their active learning leads to literacy program.
LEAP’s Active Learning Leads to Literacy (A.L.L.L) uses multi-sensory, arts-based teaching strategies in music, theater, visual art, dance, cooking and games to teach literacy to students in grades K-8. According to Langer, LEAP’s A.L.L.L program taps into the varied learning styles of students, even those who do not respond to traditional teaching methods and are “falling through the cracks.”
At P.S. 219 Langer worked with seventh-grade students on creating a large-scale piece of art based on a social issue in their community.
LEAP’s Public Art Program asks middle school students to speak out on social issues and to have a voice in their communities through the creation and exhibition of art in New York City parks.
Students work with a LEAP teaching artist to explore critical issues in their communities; study the history, practice and power of public art; and ultimately create large-scale art expressing themselves on an issues of relevance.
According to Langer, some of the past topics have included environment, domestic violence, homelessness, racism.
“I think it is wonderful to be celebrating LEAP New York City on leap day,” Langer said. “I have worked with the organization for four years and I have really seen the benefits the arts have on my students. The students light up when they talk about the art they have created. I am lucky to be a teaching artist.”