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Pathways to Graduation HS gets Sing for Hope piano

Keys to empowerment

Students and staff welcome the Sing for Hope piano to its new home at Pathways t Jonathan Fickies

Students and staff welcome the Sing for Hope piano to its new home at Pathways to Graduation HS.

A jam session, with Haynsworth on guitar, is organized to celebrate the occasion Jonathan Fickies

A jam session, with Haynsworth on guitar, is organized to celebrate the occasion.

The Sing for Hope piano that now has a home at Pathways to Graduation HS is described by artist Jose Baez, who decorated it, as “composed of parts of feet, heads, arms, hands and mouths — a playful and light-hearted piece — ready to dance, walk and run down the street with every song.” Student Christian Valdez, who plays the piano every lunch period, says, “It empowers your fingers to go beyond the keys.” The piano began its colorful life on a pier in Brooklyn Bridge Park as one of 400 brightly painted instruments stationed in New York City parks and public spaces throughout the summer inviting passersby to sit down and play. They were all then donated by Sing for Hope, a nonprofit organization, to public schools. “The inclusion of a community piano makes for a grand opportunity for people at a school to come together with a common language,” said Rachel Dahill-Fuchel, a District 79 leader who initiated the grant to get the piano. The midtown Manhattan school is the largest site of Pathways to Graduation, a citywide alternative high school program that provides students with a high school equivalency diploma. The piano was given an official welcome at a ceremony on Jan. 24. The staff assigned the piano a place of honor in the school’s common area, where students are encouraged to sit down and play. “The piano fills a desperate need for a positive focus and helps our music program grow,” said lead teacher Eileen Estorico. “We know that when kids feel good about where they study, their attendance improves and they are more successful academically, socially and emotionally.” The ceremony included a jam session featuring students, ESL teacher Edward Haynsworth on guitar, music teacher Suki Rae on piano and Sing for Hope representatives. Pathways to Graduation Chapter Leader Michael Friedman called the piano inspirational. “It gives students with a talent in music a chance to bloom,” he said.

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