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HBO Holiday Book Parties!

Katie Rainey

Katie Rainey, STAFF

This Holiday Season, Corporate Volunteers from HBO came together to sponsor students at two Community-Word Project schools and purchased books for them for the holidays! These events were a part of the HBO Inspires initiative this holiday season. They bought over 200 books and attended events at both schools in order to present the students with their gifts. 

On Monday, December 14th, volunteers spear-headed by HBO Archives Supervisor and CWP Board Member, Marcus Turner, arrived at PS 17 Henry David Thoreau in Astoria, Queens early in the morning to visit with the school’s fifth grade class. This CWP residency is co-taught by Writer Maria Schirmer and Theatre Artist Ally Tufenkjian and will focus on collaborating both art forms to produce both an original anthology of student writing and an ensemble performance piece.

The HBO volunteers were introduced to the community through a series of activities and games led by the Teaching Artists, including “Zip Zap Zop” and “Pass the Face”.

Games like these not only help the students get comfortable with performing in front of each other, but also help establish trust and a collaborative community in the classroom. The students were more than happy to include the HBO employees in their community. 

Afterwards, the volunteers introduced themselves and spoke about why they believed in arts education, and how they wished to see the students take advantage of this unique learning opportunity.

Finally, it was time for presents! The students received beautiful color copies of the book I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who recently received the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy of human rights and education. A week prior to the event, a slew of HBO employees came together to wrap these presents for the students and, while all of the employees who bought and wrapped the presents could not attend that day, the students were overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement. 

But they weren’t done there!

On Thursday, December 17th, volunteers from HBO’s Legal Team visited PS 676, the Red Hook Neighborhood School in Brooklyn and took part in another holiday book party for the 2nd, 3rd and 5th graders in our residency there. 

These classes are co-taught by Dancer Adia Whitaker and Writer Jashua Sa-Ra. Adia and Jashua began the day with a little warm-up activity called “Little Jackie and Sally Walker.” This activity gets the students up and out of their chairs, working out those excess “wiggles” that build up from sitting at their desk for long stretches of time.

Then, they led the class in a lesson on meter and motif, illustrating their points through various visual arts, written, musical and movement examples. 

Finally, the HBO volunteers gave the students their books. Each class received two books. The 2nd and 3rd graders each received Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus, while the 5th graders received I Am Malala. Each student also received a second book, the titles chosen by different HBO volunteers. 

It was a very special day and it meant the world to our students. We are deeply grateful for HBO’s generosity.

CWP programming at PS 17 was made possible in part by The New York Community Trust and our collaboration with Zone 126.

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