Art Exhibit By District’s ELL Students On Display at Hartford Public Library

Spotlight on Excellence     April 2013


Art Exhibit By District’s ELL Students On Display at Hartford Public Library: Citizenship Ceremony Kicks Off Opening

 A work of art by Nut Win — a student at the Law & Government Academy — that will be part of the exhibit.
“Freedom Dream”, an art exhibition by English Language Learners from Hartford public high schools and academies went on display April 11, at the Center for Contemporary Culture in the main branch of the Hartford Public Library at 500 Main Street.
The 20 essays and artworks in the exhibit capture each student’s vision of freedom in the United States. The display pieces were selected from 70 submissions made by ELL students in grades 9-12. 
Students who volunteered for the project had to read the book “We Are America, A Tribute from the Heart” by bestselling author Walter Dean Myers and engage in thought provoking lessons to help develop their ideas about belonging.
The opening will coincide with an 11:00 a.m. swearing-in ceremony in the library’s atrium for 30 new U.S. citizens from the Hartford area. Mr. Myers is expected to deliver the keynote address at the ceremony and meet the student artists.
Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, Lieutenant Gov. Nancy Wyman and Secretary of State Denise Merrill are also slated to participate in the ceremony, which will feature performances by the Hartford Public High School Show Choir and the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School choir.
“The goal of the “Freedom Dream” project was to encourage ELLs to think about their place in the community and engage in conversations about it with other youth and family,” said Mary Beth Russo, Lead ELL Facilitator for Hartford Public Schools, who supervised the project.
Library officials say they will also be publishing a book on the exhibit titled: “Freedom Dream: We Belong Here Hartford”, which will be archived in the library’s Hartford History Center.
The student artists, born in Myanmar, Thailand, the Dominical Republic, Nepal, Peru and Puerto Rico, attend the Law and Government Academy, the Nursing Academy, the Journalism and Media Academy and Bulkeley High School.
Almost 18 percent of Hartford Public School students are English Language Learners, representing 70 different language groups. About 7,000 of those students speak Spanish at home. Another 230 are Serbo-Croatian and about 110 are Karen students from Myanmar.

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