Mt. Vernon Register-News

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January 15, 2013

D-80 teams up with Cedarhurst

Cedarhurst Center for the Arts helps provide a hands-on aspect to studying Black History Month

MT. VERNON — — For the third year, a collaboration with Cedarhurst Center for the Arts is providing kids a hands-on aspect to studying Black History Month.

This year, the focus is on the children’s book “Dave the Potter,” about a South Carolina slave in the 1800s who was a potter, poet and artist, said Dr. Dee Ann Schnautz, coordinator of the City Schools District 80 program.

“The kids will be making mini pots on paper, and they will either decorate them or write lyrics or some kind of poetry,” she said. “We are going to make a huge collage with the pots from pre-K to eighth grade. The thought was that Dave the Potter could have made 40,000 pots in his life.”

Through District 80’s collaboration with Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, local artist and potter Cortez Hodges has been going to each attendance center and doing a demo on his pottery wheel.

“He is talking about what it (making pottery) would have been like in the day of Dave the Potter versus now, and his artistry,” Schnautz said. “Dave the Potter did a haiku-style, two lines of poetry on some of his work, so Cortez also talks to them about some of that.”

The partnership with Cedarhurst is also beneficial to the schools because the museum is providing art materials and training to teachers, Schnautz added.

The African-American History Celebration will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21, in the Zadok Casey Middle School gymnasium, Schnautz said.

A poetry contest for third through eighth graders focusing on Dave the Potter or another prominent African-American historical figure is being sponsored by the Mt. Vernon Minority Affairs and Human Relations Commission. The winners will read their poems during the celebration.  

In addition, former District 80 parents Shannon Green and Adam Stone are providing a $25 prize for a Community Action Award. Teachers and administrators will nominate children who have volunteered to better the community for the prize, and the winner will be revealed during the event.

The third grade choir and the Casey Dance Team will perform, and the Technology Club will show a presentation of recordings of Hodges working on his pottery wheel.

“It’s a fantastic program,” Schnautz said. “It’s encouraging to hear and see. All the music is pretty impressive as well.”

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