Volume 22, Number 52 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 7 - 13, 2010
Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert
Mike D. of the Beastie Boys led a guitar jam at the Church Street School on Saturday at the celebration of the school’s new space.
Rock stars and ribbon weaving for the new Church St. School
BY Kristin Shiller
Last Saturday the Church Street School in Tribeca celebrated 20 years of making music and art with a block party featuring an interactive guitar jam with special guests Mike D. of Beastie Boys fame and musician Andrew W.K. Hundreds of kids and their parents came out for the all-day event.
During the celebration, Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin also dedicated the school’s new 6,000-square-foot space, an expansion project that has recently put a financial strain on the school. Despite these troubles, however, Saturday’s event was free to the public and focused solely on fun.
“Today is really about our 20th anniversary…and encouraging people to make more music and make more art,” said Betsy Kerlin, director of development for the school.
Not surprisingly, the artistic school put a creative spin on the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony. “What we do here is build community, so we decided instead of having a ribbon cutting to inaugurate our new space, we would have a ribbon weaving,” explained Cecilia Schmidt, a founding artist of the school and current board member. “People walked in here and I said, ‘Do whatever you want.’ We are all about process and the joy of making things and finding your own voice.” Throughout the day, many children eagerly wove brightly colored ribbons onto the hinged canvases to be displayed in the school.
The highlight of the event for many of the young musicians was likely the guitar jam, during which Mike D. and Andrew W.K. led the group in several popular songs. Large cue cards with the guitar chords were in view so that kids and parents could follow along on their own instruments. Several students had the opportunity to sing and play on stage with the musicians, like 12-year-old Antonia Frank, who has been playing the guitar since she was seven. Guitar student Daniel Komanoff, 15, followed along in the audience and was excited to be so close to the celebrity musicians.
“[The jam] was a nice climax to the 20th anniversary celebration,” he said.