|JFK HIGH’S W.O.T.P. STUDENTS INAUGURATE ART GALLERY|
MONTREAL, MAY 30, 2017 – A group of at-risk students from John F. Kennedy High School in St. Michel decided to show their talent to the public via the creation of an art gallery. This was a space for the W.O.T.P. (Work Oriented Training Pathway) to highlight and expose the collection of student works and to celebrate the creative efforts over the course of the four years of the program.
Teachers and program coordinators Stefan Kazamias and Anthony Tonin are very proud of their students. “Mr. Tonin and I are not only teachers and program coordinators, we are the coaches, the big brothers and the caretakers of our students’ growth,” he said. “The exhibit this year was as much about representing the culmination of their artistic efforts as it was about giving them a chance to see the public appreciate their work and talent. If you give young people a chance to grow, they’ll grow.”
Visitors to the exhibit were truly moved by these works of art. Seeing the talent that was present in the rooms of people was electric. An even better feeling of joy came over those on hand when they saw the happiness and hope in the eyes of the students talking to people about their work. You could tell they were proud. They had made an effort for this event, and it all paid off. Over 100 guests were on hand to lend their support to these at-risk students who struggle with a variety of difficulties including autism, socio-behavioral difficulties and physical and intellectual limitations.
“There is no simple solution to struggling with learning or behavioral difficulties just as there is no general approach to teaching and helping students with these difficulties to succeed. The underlying element is care,” says Mr. Kazamias. “The work of art by a student, the work done by teachers and students in the creative process does more than just serving to produce a pretty piece or a finished product; it sets the framework for growth and progress in the hearts and minds of both student and teacher. Art matters and the work that goes into it matters even more.”
Mr. Kazamias added: “We focus on growing and finding opportunities for our students to find success. This allows for hope – a feeling so many students in similar situations have abandoned – to be rekindled.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is the Member of Parliament for the Papineau riding, has sent a letter of congratulations for this initiative. “I have long believed that our youth are not just the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today, and the actions they take now can have a big impact on our communities,” he wrote.
Michael J. Cohen