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Vallone Expands CASA Education Program

There will be even more after school education activities in northeast Queens.

Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) visited PS 184 in Whitestone to discuss the Cultural After School Adventures program. CASA partners schools with cultural groups and institutions to provide arts enrichment. Citywide funding increased from $5 million to $7.1 million for CASA programming.

Vallone was joined by principal Anna Dimilta, District 25 superintendent Danielle DiMango, UFT Queens Political Action Coordinator Dermot Smyth and various cultural representatives. At the start of the event, the group saw CASA in action, as a student drum ensemble performed a couple of songs that they learned in a month. The drum workshop is part of PS 184’s partnership with Flushing Town Hall.

“This is a perfect example of putting together programs that work with children, that work with the school, in perfect harmony,” Vallone said. “When you look at the funding that’s involved, it really isn’t millions of dollars to do that.”

The BELL Academy in Bayside is linked with the Bayside Historical Society, PS 129 in College Point is partnered with Colden Center Performances, Bayside’s PS 130 works with the Queens Theatre, PS 79 in Whitestone is connected to the Poppenhusen Institute, Douglaston’s PS 98 collaborates with Midori & Friends and Whitestone’s JHS 194 teams up with the Magic Box.

“I listen to the principals, who have told me which cultural institutions work best for their programs,” Vallone said. “You had the groups working in sync with the principals and in the end, the kids win.”

Dimilta thanked the councilman for his efforts, stating that he has been a supportive part of the community and has helped PS 184 to succeed.

“His commitment to enriching the children is certainly evident when looking at the funding provided for us,” she said. “It helps me to be successful when I have people supporting my vision.”

Flushing Town Hall executive and artistic director Ellen Kodadek expressed her excitement at the opportunity for the facility to help PS 184 students expand their cultural horizons, through activities like the drum ensemble.

“We’re going to be doing 50 sessions of drumming with the children from all over the world,” she said. “They’re really going all around the world through the drums, then they’re coming back home to Queens and New York City.”

Smyth praised the CASA program for providing education that goes beyond the classroom and gives the students solid foundations that they will carry with them into adulthood.

“The classroom is very important, but education as a whole doesn’t just happen inside the classroom,” he said. “It wasn’t just math, it wasn’t just ELA, it was a whole bunch of other stuff that helps them grow into the adults they’re going to become.”

View full story at Queens Tribune.