Spotlight on Katonah-Lewisboro

April 15, 2019

Actor Lou Del Bianco strode into Meadow Pond Elementary looking every inch like Abraham Lincoln. John Jay Middle School students learned to shuffle, step-heel and hop-step during a crash course in tap dancing from choreographer Anne Marie Galler. Special education students at John Jay High School visited the Prospector, a movie theater dedicated to providing meaningful employment to people with disabilities.
These were among more than 160 arts-related programs that enhanced learning in the Katonah-Lewisboro School District this year, all of them arranged through Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES Arts-in-Education service.
“Katonah-Lewisboro schools are known for their academic excellence and the district’s PTOs also go above and beyond to bring meaningful arts experiences into classrooms at every grade level,” said Stacy Chryssikos, who coordinates Arts-in-Education. “The parents I work with to book arts programs are amazing. They are juggling families, jobs, and volunteer work. They are making the magic of the arts happen for children.”
Students at Katonah-Lewisboro will enjoy a roster of return performers, workshops, residencies, and field trips, as well as several new Arts-in-Education programs this year. Renata Bowers, author of the Frieda B. series of children’s books, visited an elementary school and encouraged students to dream big and believe in themselves. Mixed media artist Lance Johnson explored the connections between emotions, music, and art by painting a mural in a middle school assembly while a DJ spun hip-hop. The EMIT Theater will be doing an immersive experience of “Romeo and Juliet” for ninth-graders.
Research has shown that exposure to the arts promotes critical and creative thinking in students, skills that are essential for success in the 21st Century. Now in its 28th year, Arts-in-Education helps school districts in the planning, scheduling, booking and evaluation of a full range of arts-related services. The service maintains a roster of over 1,700 arts programs ranging from Chinese acrobats, to painters, authors and musical performers, and serves 38 school districts across the region.
Using the Arts-in-Education service at BOCES not only simplifies the process of booking artists and performers, it helps defray the cost of the programs because many services offered by BOCES are eligible for state aid.
Emily Wein, a parent who has arranged programs for Increase Miller Elementary, praised Chryssikos and the service.
“Stacy answers emails immediately,” Wein said. “She’s talked me through the process regarding booking and payment. BOCES’ database of artists is impressive, too: I found a Latin American dance troupe for our Regions Celebration in June.”
For her part, Chryssikos said, the district’s commitment to the arts is outstanding.  
“Katonah-Lewisboro brings in four programs per grade at the elementary level,” said Chryssikos, “and this commitment to the arts continues throughout a student’s experience. The impressive benefits of arts education are felt throughout the district—in student attitudes and attendance as well as in cultivating creativity and collaboration."