When students and visitors walk into the office areas of Frederick Douglass and Bunche Park elementary schools, one of the first things they see are mixed-media panels depicting the African-American icons the schools are named for. Pictured with the icons are images of children from all walks of life, who have come to the schools and where they learn to make the right life decisions.
Recently, I toured the two schools with artist C.J. Latimore. As I walked into Douglass and looked at his art work, I had a strong sense of nostalgia: I attended the school in the second and third grades. And it was there that I got my first lessons in African-American history, from teachers like Eunice Liberty and Naomi Carr.
I understand the message Latimore and principals Yolanda Ellis at Douglass and Yesenia Aponte at Bunche Park are trying to teach children in those schools. In addition to educating them, the principals and teachers are also working on the children’s self esteem as they teach them about their heritage and legacy.
“Teaching our children about our heritage and cultural is a spiritual thing,” Latimore said. “It’s very important to instill in our children’s spirit the meaning of their heritage and culture. When I was designing these art works, it was very important to me that the children who would look at them would see themselves. This is why I painted the children, seated around and looking up at our icons.”
The multimedia art panels also depict the educational tools necessary to prepare the children for the future. They feature word clouds like “inspiring,” “eye-opening,” “achieve,” “read,” “focus,” and “believe,” along with phrases like “I can dream big,” “Set goals,” “Never quit” and “Be motivated.”
The art work shares the schools’ histories, bringing it alive for the children. “We have the past and the present of the school — all captured in one frame,” he said.
“The art captures the history of the school and really bring it to life,” Aponte said. “And the message is very inspiring. … We have them placed in spaces throughout the school where there is a lot of children movement.”
As Latimore was creating the art works, he also solicited the help of the principals. For example, the “word clouds” on the Douglass murals were Ellis’ idea.
“The entire project is about building positive images for our children that will encourage and inspire them throughout the school year and for generations to come,” Latimore said.
Pre-Shabbat open house
You are invited to a pre-Shabbat wine and cheese Open House at Congregation Dor Chadash at 6 p.m. Friday.
The open house is for the community to get to know the synagogue’s clergy, including Rabbi Jonathan Tabachnikoff, Cantor Don Bennett, members of the religious school, men’s club and sisterhood. The synagogue is at 9400 SW 87th Ave.
The community is invited to Riviera Presbyterian Church, 5275 Sunset Dr., on Sept. 10 for the annual kickoff of the church’s fall program, which introduces members and guests to the church’s many activities and ministries for children, youth, young professionals and adults.
Service will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the “Theology Over Morning Java” Bible Study, followed at 10 a.m. with “Conversations About Membership.” Morning worship is at 11 a.m. and children Sunday school is at 11:15 a.m.
At noon, there will be a fried chicken church picnic and waterslide. If you go, please bring a side dish to share. Vegan choices will also be available.
Welcome new cantor
Ahavat Olam Synagogue at 10755 SW 112th St., will welcome Cantor Steven Haas, the newest addition to its clergy team, during the religious school’s pizza party at 4:30 p.m. Friday, and 7:45 p.m. at the weekly Shabbat Service.
Haas, who has an operatic-trained tenor voice, served more than 25 years as cantor at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach, where he presided over all types of life cycle events. He also has made dozens of trips to Israel for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
Art For Good
Art For Good, is a nonprofit organization with the goal to help decrease heat related illnesses experienced by South Florida farm workers. At 11 a.m. Sunday, following the morning service at South Miami Lutheran Church, there will be a workshop in the church’s recreational hall, where volunteers will be taught how to assemble “cool ties.”
Art For Good has prepared artwork on bolts of fabrics which will be filled with pellets. When the pellets are dipped in water and worn around the neck of a worker, they will help reduce the core of body temperature.
Interested persons are welcome to attend the workshop. The church is at 7190 Sunset Dr. Call Elaine Mills at 305-235-2036, for more information on this project.
‘Hymns of the Reformation’
In keeping with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Trinity Cathedral, 464 NE 16th St., will present a program, “Hymns of the Reformation — a Festival of Sacred Music” at 6 p.m. Sunday.
The music will be performed by the Anglican Chorale, American Guild of Organists, Florida International University choirs, Miami Collegium, Miami Dade College choirs, Barry University choirs, St. Andrew’s Bell Choir, and church and school choirs.
“This gathering of choirs and music lovers will be the most-remarkable musical celebration,” said Donald Oglesby, professor emeritus at the University of Miami Frost School of Music.
The ecumenical musical commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation will bring people of all denominations together to hear and sing some of the most wonderful music created in the first centuries of the Reformation, with music by Martin Luther and his colleagues, and from other reformed traditions,” Oglesby said. “A remarkable gathering of singers from across South Florida will lead the singing of favorite music of this period.”
Oglesby said Martin Luther wrote 36 hymns and one motet. He said Luther’s followers went on to write hundreds of hymns. Most notable was Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) who wrote 139 German hymn texts and 15 in Latin. “Today there are over 10,000 hymns that have been collected on NetHymnal,” he said.
The event will begin with Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in both Luther’s original rhythmic version, and then in the common form best known today.
There will be Reformation commemorations through Oct. 31. Other events will be announced in future columns.