Students plan educational rap program Friday at JPAC
If you go
The "Sparks" performance by students from Janesville, Beloit, Milton and New Glarus schools is set for 1 p.m. Friday at the Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 S. Main St., Janesville. Admission is free.
An information session about the Fulfilling the Dream program and other opportunities, services and higher education for youth in Rock and Green counties, with free food and beverages, is set for noon at JPAC. For more information, contact the JPAC box office at (608) 758-0297 or CESA 2 transition consultant Pam Jenson at (608) 758-6232, Ext. 309.
JANESVILLE Local teachers are using hip-hop music to lead at-risk teens away from negative influences.
The idea is part of a curriculum being used at schools at Janesville's Rock River Charter School as well as programs in Beloit, Milton and New Glarus—60 students in all.
Friday, the students will show some of what they've learned while performing on stage at the Janesville Performing Arts Center.
The students have worked with artist Roberto Rivera, who wrote the Fulfill the Dream Curriculum they are using, and with hip-hop performers LaCouir Yancey, Ben Z., Nahum Diaz and the nationally award winning group The Figureheads.
The professionals will perform with the students, said Pam Jenson of Cooperative Educational Service Agency 2, who runs the program with about $65,000 in federal funding.
Students have been looking at difficulties they face and learning how to turn these into positives through hip-hop, Jenson said.
Hip-hop includes a lot of negative lyrics, Jenson noted, but "we need to turn that around for our youth today so they can be positive for our communities."
The curriculum encourages students to look at their aspirations and where they are headed in life, Jenson said. They are shown how to deal with hurtful situations, to make an action plan for their lives and to avoid temptations, using their creativity.
Artists come in one day a week and work with them on music, poetry or other arts.
The performance is designed to give youth a voice, Jenson said.
"Often when you talk to youth, they say nobody is listening to what they say," Jenson said, so this is a way for them to express themselves about what's happening in their communities.
A news release about the performance puts it this way: "For too long our youth have been silenced and blamed for society's problems. However a change has come, and youth are discerning their voices and assuming positions of leadership to critically examine society's issues and creatively work to solve them. …
"Youth will dance, rap, and share poems and art to communicate the ideals that the best days of our communities are still before us."
Friday's performance might be the first and last of its kind, unless more funding is found to keep the program going, Jenson said.