Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cheer at Cook Library Center

On December 19th students at the Cook Library Center enjoyed making Christmas cards for their family and friends. The cards were very creative and had awesome designs. Chase (below) took his time to draw and decorate cards for his Mom and Dad. Since Chase is growing up in a bi-lingual world, he made sure to write his card in both English and Spanish.
Some of the students used the GAAH Aztec sun logo to create unique Christmas cards (above). The Cook Library Center is a wonderful atmosphere for all ages. There are toys for young ones to play with, a beautiful community kitchen, tables for activities & homework, and a bi-lingual library. Anyone can stop by, and volunteers to help with homework are always needed. Email to get info on upcoming community events or volunteer opportunities. ¡Feliz Navidad!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Press Club Goes to the Ballet!

This past week, the Press Club went to go see the Grand Rapids Ballet perform the Nutcracker at Devos Hall. Most of the students were not familiar with the story and had many questions before hand: "Is there going to be REAL magic?" "How are we going to know what's going on if there is no talking?" Although some of the boys were initially a little apprehensive, all the students left Devos Hall either dancing or talking about the "cool" parts.
The next day, students wrote about their experience for the Press Club (look out for their review) Avelycia (age 12) commented, "It was really really great, the dancers were moving along with the music. When the music got slower they also got slower and when it was fast they moved fast...I love the ballet." Students got a kick out of the "Ballet Christmas Tree" in the lobby, and took a special picture (below) just to show Ms. Steffanie (Program Director at GAAH).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Little Ballerinas say Farewell

Little GAAH dancers say farewell to their beloved Ballet & Tap instructor Kelly Malinowski this winter. Kelly has been teaching at GAAH for almost two years, and says, "I've loved working in this neighborhood, the students are so passionate and I will miss them all dearly"

Kelly comments on how the arts have been cut from many school programs, and therefore, emphasizes how important GAAH is to the kids. Kelly is specifically passionate about the benefits of dance in early childhood development. To read more about the beneficial role dance can play in physical, emotional, & cognitive development click here.

Kelly is off to graduate school in California to study public administration, and fondly says, "Thank you to the Cook Arts Center and to the dancers for all their hard work!"The Cook Arts Center offers high quality programming, with classes taught by professionals.
The Cook Arts Center will start a new semester this January 9th. Exciting new classes include Watercolor for Kids, Beads, Cards, & Glass Design (9-16 yrs), Recycled Sculpture (7+), Piñatas & paper Maché (5-15 yrs). Click here for the full list of classes!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

David Lockington at the Cook Library Center!

David Lockington, conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony, came to the Cook Library Center November 17th, 2011. With a bright blue cello case in hand, Mr Lockington instantly had a crowd of excited students who wanted to share their thoughts.
GAAH students gathered in the community room and fell under a trance as Mr. Lockington began to play the cello and sing a soulful song. Mr. Lockington later shared the inspiring story of how he went from playing cello professionally, to conducting orchestras.
The students enjoyed the interactive piece that Mr. Lockington wrote, and did a great job clapping at the correct parts in the song. Students also got a chance to ask Mr. Lockington questions, and share which instruments they are studying at the Cook Arts Center. GAAH appreciates Mr. Lockington for giving this wonderfully enriching experience to the Cook Library students.
Special thanks to GAAH's talented volunteer photographer Katherine Thelen, who took pictures of this event.

Check out the youtube video of this event!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

El Día De Los Muertos-Day Of The Dead

On October 29th, the Cook Arts Center celebrated the traditional Hispanic El Día De Los Muertos (Day Of The Dead). People from the Grandville Ave. neighborhood & greater Grand Rapids came together to celebrate loved ones who have passed away. 

11 dedicated volunteers decorated the center beautifully on Friday afternoon, and set up an impressive two table traditional altar (above). People brought "ofrendas" (candles, photos, and favorite items of loved ones) to place on the community altar.
Everyone enjoyed the intercultural potluck during the afternoon. Some people got to try Costa Rican tamales, pan dulce, and sweet pineapple tamales for the first time!

 Neighborhood youth Latino artist, Javier Campos, had a beautiful piece of art exhibited for the event. Javier recently started a paid internship with GAAH, and GAAH staff is enthusiastically supporting his creative endeavors.

Musicians Nuri Tett and Irma Rodriguez played some smooth Latin duets. Thanks for sharing your talent and inspiring our youth!

The Art table was jam packed all afternoon as participants made Colorful skeleton masks, and other related activities.

Kyle Thompson and Frank Nawrot, Students of Carlos De La Barrera, provided beautiful Latin and Spanish guitar music.
Thanks again to everyone who made this event fun and special! The Cook Arts Center welcomes new volunteers at any time,and collaborates with local artists, and musicians. Email Eva at if you are interested in volunteering or collaborating!
~Enjoy the rest of the pictures from El Día De Los Muertos below~

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Season!

Students at GAAH eagerly anticipate fall activities, especially when the pumpkins start arriving! Mr. Gene Gilmore owns a farm out in Ada, Michigan and graciously donates pumpkins to GAAH each year. This year, when Mr. Gilmore arrived at the library, he was greeted with the usual helping hands and smiling faces.
Students and families had a blast decorating pumpkins in Mrs. Katherine and Mr. Jared's classes. Thanks again, Mr. Gilmore!

GAAH's youth Press Club took the opportunity to cover the pumpkin extravaganza and their story "The Great Pumpkin Interview" was published in the Rapidian!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Zumba, Tie-dye, & Cartoons

This fall, GAAH has partnered with Spectrum health to bring Zumba to the neighborhood! Instructor Monica Sanders leads a high energy workout Thursdays at 1pm.
Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance fitness program that is very popular these days. Zumba incorporates hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts & belly dancing into the routines.
Dedicated women come every week to laugh, shake, and dance the afternoon away.

Tie-dye: Students love the new Tie-dye creations class on Wednesdays.
The students love being creative and finding out what colors look great together. 

Shirley shows off her tie-dying abilities

Jesus is excited about his new shirt. Combining his favorite colors, he created a funky piece of art that he can't wait to wear. Students also got a little lesson in science, learning that some liquids have the ability to stain!

CARTOONING: Mr. George teaches a new cartooning class that has all the students talking. They learn techniques that unravel the tricky world of cartooning and can be seen doodling during their spare time. Mr. George is a very skilled illustrator who portrays how cartooning is truly an art form.
After school students walk to the Cook Arts Center, have a snack, then go to the beautiful art room and spend the afternoon drawing. It's a safe space where students can process their day quietly, have a couple laughs, and explore any creative interests. In Cartooning class, students especially enjoy creating their own stories and characters.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Appreciation

Its 4:10pm and the entrance room to the Cook Arts Center is quiet; the calm before the storm. Noemi Ashley, the receptionist, glances at the clock and gets a hint of excitement in her eyes. Although she had been involved with GAAH for several years, she always eagerly anticipates the students’ arrival after school. The door bursts open and a swirl of students, leaves & autumn air fill the small entrance. Noemi exhibits a calm poise as she asks the students about their day and gets them signed in. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Noemi loves the family atmosphere at the center and especially enjoys working with the large Latino population. “The center really does make a change” she explains, “The classes help students build confidence which helps for their future.” Noemi remembers going to a community center growing up and says it had a positive impact on her life. There truly is a supporting community at GAAH and Noemi is just one of the important individuals who make it an enriching space. Executive Director Marjorie Kuipers says, “Noemi treats everyone with love & respect. She is patient and has the ability to juggle a variety of tasks.” In addition to the numerous tasks Noemi gracefully accomplishes at work, she is also pursuing an occupational therapy degree (full time!) at GVSU.

Cook Arts Center: Not Just For Kids Enthusiastic students pour into the Cook Arts Center & Cook Library Center everyday to strengthen their academic skills and embark on creative ventures. GAAH however, is not just for kids. On Tuesday nights, neighborhood members & people from greater Grand Rapids come together to stretch out their interest in yoga. Meryn McClelland, certified yoga instructor, leads the class with valuable cross-cultural competency. Around 7:45pm a comforting harmonic sound can be heard through the walls as yoga participants sing a traditional mantra that signifies love and community. Meryn is one of our many dedicated volunteers who make GAAH special. In addition to the community yoga class, adults have also requested their own piano class. Volunteer Katherine Thelen graciously teaches a kids art class during the piano class so that parents do not need to worry about childcare.

New Faces: Eva Jenson recently joined GAAH staff as our new multicultural & bilingual Outreach Coordinator. She says, “GAAH is so important to everyone involved. Staff members enjoy being here just as much as class participants. I hope to create even more opportunities for people to come celebrate culture and community.” Eva received a warm welcome and looks forward to exciting future endeavors.