The school with the best chess team, band and girls basketball program is now hoping they can pull off the best fundraiser to keep those and other afterschool programs alive as the budget ax falls.
IS 318, whose national championship chess team was the subject of 2012’s award winning documentary, “Brooklyn Castle,” is once again facing severe cuts that threaten to impinge on that program and eliminate many more. Last year, the school was able to make up shortfalls, due in large part, to the film’s success, but with no sequel on the horizon, they know they’ll need something bigger than walkathons and bake sales to keep their programs intact.
That something is coming to Brooklyn Bowl on June 2nd, at a concert that will feature the acclaimed Middle School band performing with local and more widely known musicians, as well as some comedy and magic between acts.
To ensure a hit, Jane Pool, mother of 7th grader Bo, has been meeting with more than 30 students twice per week, advising them on how to stage a successful fundraiser. Dividing her charges into committees, each with specific responsibilities, such as publicity and fundraising, she is helping them arrange talent and merchandising for the event, as well as sponsorships to help with the organizational costs.
Pool’s involvement with IS 318 goes well beyond the June 2nd event. She serves on the School leadership Team (SLT), meeting monthly with the staff and other parents, and attends monthly parent chats. “I feel that part of what makes this school so special is that anything you say you want to do to get involved with the school, they’re unbelievably receptive,” she said. “This school is so inclusive, and I can see why they excel at so much. It’s a really special place.”
The feeling from the students is mutual. “She’s almost like a second parent to us,” said 7th grader Laura Arroyo. “She cares about us and about the school and wants us to get the right education.” Arroyo added that, “All the teachers here are very caring, they want us to do well so we have something to look forward to in the future. The kids are only one part of the puzzle; it’s also the people who help us along on the journey.”
One “local talent” who will jam with the school band is Councilmember Steve Levin. A guitar autographed by the legislator/bass player will also be auctioned off at the event. “It’s really clear to me that the kids at IS 318 have what it takes,” Levin said. “They have the most amazing programs. They’re the best chess team in the country, they have one of the best concert bands I’ve ever seen, and I am thrilled, but not surprised that they’ve taken on this project with as much heart as they have.”
The loss of afterschool programs at the school – nearly have of which have been cut – has proven to be a powerful motivator for the students. “They provide a foundation for the kids here,” said 7th grader Monika Ryczek, who credited the school’s A/V program with inspiring a friend to advance her education at a technical theater high school. “It builds a foundation for more things to continue in life. Without afterschool programs, trying to do that is just so much harder.”
Part of what distinguishes this fundraiser and the school in general is its sense of community. “We don’t want to just show a specific group,” explained Arroyo. “It’s going to help with the whole school.” Even in the face of the loss of their own programs, the school continues to support organizations like the Rachel Cooper Foundation (co-founded by former IS 318 Principal Alan Fierstein), which helps low income families pay for their children’s heart treatments.
“We can make a change,” declared Ryczek. “Even though we’re not adults here and we don’t have that much power in the world, we can make a difference.”
The fundraiser will be dedicated to former Principal Fred Rubino, who passed away in 2012.
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