GRAY – Visual and performing arts classes at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School have been collaborating to learn about cultural heritage and contemporary lives of children living in Haiti.

Students have been exploring Haitian art forms, illustrating songbooks, singing French, Creole and English songs, listening to Haitian Kompa music and engaging in dialogue about third world social, political and socioeconomic conditions. The objective was for the students to share learning that will help mutual understanding.

Seventh- and eighth-graders are sharing their culture and art work through illustrated songbooks, which will be used by children at Project Pierre Toussaint in Cap Haitien, Haiti.

The collection includes American and Haitian folk music, which they learned to sing in performing arts classes. The students illustrated the songs with paintings, block prints and collage during art classes. The finished songbooks will be used in Haitian music classes.

Teacher Gretchen Preneta will travel to Haiti during February break to visit her brother and assist him in his work with homeless children at Project Pierre Toussaint. She will bring the songbooks, recordings of the Gray-New Gloucester students singing the songs and other donations.

The students have been donating change to purchase school supplies for Project Pierre Toussaint.

The Portland nonprofit group, Konbit Sante, has invited the middle school to send clothing, toiletries, educational, medical and hygiene supplies on their twice-a-year container shipment to Cap Haitien. Supplies that cannot be used by Project Pierre Toussaint will go to patients and caregivers at the Cap Haitien Hospital.

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