Friday, October 25, 2013

Sonia Manzano Visits the Cook Library Center! 

On October 15th, we had the most wonderful pleasure of hosting Sonia Manzano, known for three decades as "Maria" on PBS's Sesame Street, at the Cook Library Center as a guest speaker. One of the first Hispanic Americans to appear on television, Mrs. Manzano has been honored by many organizations that include the Association of Hispanic Arts, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, and Hispanic Heritage Award for Education. She was also named by Latina Magazine in 2013 as one of the top 25 "Greatest Latino Role Models Ever." Her presentation included the importance of education, literacy and her experiences as a Latina writer, in addition to discussing family and heritage. The event was open to the public and coincided with Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th - October 15th). Mrs. Manzano recently wrote a new book titled “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano,” which explores Latino heritage and civil rights in an accessible and historically poignant format. She read excerpts of the book to our students and also did book signings. This was especially exciting for our Cook Library Scholars students because they are currently reading her book! Having Mrs. Manzano as a guest in our community was a true honor and a wonderful, enriching experience for our students. 

Cook Library Scholars pose for a picture with Sonia! 

Listening intently to the presentation

Book signing!
Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities administers the programs of the Cook Arts Center and Cook Library Center.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cook Library Scholars: Literature, Community, and History Intersect!

On September 16th, 31 students from the Grandville Avenue neighborhood joined the inaugural class of Cook Library Scholars. This brand new project of GAAH, sponsored by grants from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Steelcase Foundation, provides academic support, leadership education, and diverse enrichment opportunities to students in the Grandville Avenue neighborhood.  Thursday marked the end of our fourth week together! This week, our Scholars learned more about an exciting leadership opportunity through the CLS program.

In partnership with Grand Valley State University’s Kutsche Office of Local History, our Scholars will begin a multimedia project of documenting their neighborhood’s history. As part of this project, the students had the privilege of meeting José Jiménez on Thursday. In the late 1960s, Jiménez founded a Latino rights group in Chicago called the Young Lords. He told our students about why and how his group decided to advocate for the rights of Latinos in the United States. The Scholars were particularly interested in the Young Lords’ practice of cleaning up graffiti. One of our Scholars, Maynor, made a point of thanking José for his visit.

The Scholars have begun to read Sonia Manzano’s The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, a young adult historical fiction novel that depicts a young woman’s perception of the Young Lords movement in Spanish Harlem, New York City. On top of meeting José, the founder of that movement, our students will meet the book’s author on Tuesday, October 15. Ms. Manzano is most recognized for her role as Maria on the wildly popular children’s show Sesame Street. She will come to read to our kids and to discuss the importance of education. We are all so excited to meet her and invite you to join us!

We have been so grateful for our community’s participation in this project. Last week, our friend Ruth Tobar, the director of Plaza Comunitaria in Grand Rapids, read a selection from the novel to our kids as we all enjoyed the beautiful weather in Roosevelt Park. The afternoon was a fascinating intersection of literature, community, and history.

We are looking forward to diving deeper into this project with our Scholars. Stay tuned for more Cook Library Scholars updates!

Miriam, Estelita, and Yuri read The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano together.
José Jiménez shares his experiences with Maynor, a Cook Library Scholar.
Ruth Tobar reads to our kids on a sunny day in Roosevelt Park!
Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities administers the programs of the Cook Arts Center and Cook Library Center.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trendy Teen Activities

Teen Potter's Wheel, Mixed Media Madness, and Beats and Programming Electronic Music are some of this fall session's classes that are open to (and popular with!) our growing teenage population. Many of the classes here at the Arts Center have been geared towards children under 13 in the past, but our Program Director Steffanie Rosalez is working diligently to change that. She recognizes that we have several students here that are now entering into their teenage years - students that started coming to the Cook Arts Center when they were tiny, miniaturized versions of their maturing selves. For that reason, she's intentionally included 10 classes in this fall session's programming that accommodate teens all the way up until age 16. If you know a neighborhood teen that needs something to do after school, send them our way! We think that our teens are AMAZING and have really bright futures ahead of them. That being said, we're going to continue seeking ways to keep them involved at the Cook Arts Center for as long as we can!