CMCB’s Community Engagement Programs come in all shapes and sizes. From sites with one CMCB-led general music class to sites with 6 CMCB faculty members meeting with students multiple times a week, what we offer differs with each school’s individual needs. Last year, we conducted a listening tour with each of our partner sites to learn more about how we could better support them and found many new opportunities to become more invested in our existing programs. The Russell Multicultural Night this past March is one example of our increased support in action.
William E. Russell Elementary School is one of the most diverse schools within all of BPS! To celebrate their diverse community they host an annual Multicultural Night, a showcase of the many cultural backgrounds of their students, through music, dance, food, and art. But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, where these kinds of gatherings were rare and unachievable, they were unable to continue the event. Once conditions allowed for a renewal of large celebrations, administrators at the Russell aspired to bring the event back to life and turned to CMCB to help make that possible. Every week, our partnership with the Russell School consists of music instruction for grades K-5 through 5. For an event of this magnitude, our teachers and community engagement team, in partnership with Young Audiences of Massachusetts, became stage managers, event planners, audio technicians, and more to put on the first Russell Multicultural Night since 2020!
And it was a huge success, with almost 400 attendees convening as a full school community for the very first time in-person since COVID thanks to CMCB’s support. Families packed the auditorium and stretched all the way down Columbia Road and around the block, eager to see their children on stage. Each performance was so different and engaging from the youngest students singing a song about fruit in four different languages, to the fifth-grade performance on bucket drums using the Chibuzo method. 10-year old emcees welcomed the audience in English, Spanish, Cape Verdean, Portuguese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese. While on-stage, excited but nervous students waved to their families and received cheers from the packed crowd in return. The energy in the room was electric, and it was thrilling to see the community come together so powerfully in support of the Russell students.
Success in our community engagement programs means becoming so deeply invested in the school or partner that we become part of that community. This event felt like an amazing chance to be part of the Russell family and we are so grateful to be able to support our partner sites in these new and meaningful ways!
Photography Credit: Rue Sakayama