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Earth Day at Grand Street Campus - Williamsburg high school to hold green festivities, as well as musical performances

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Combining the last of seven high-definition screenings of the Metropolitan Opera with a celebration of Earth Day, the Grand Street Campus High Schools will host a day-long arts and environmental festival on Saturday, April 26.

The free event will mark the second Earth Day celebration for the 850 Grand Street group of schools that, in recognition of its arts program, was chosen to host the live, closed-circuit broadcasts of the opera this year.

Saturday’s festivities will kick off with another distinguished musical act: the Brooklyn Philharmonic, whose brass quintet will perform in the school’s courtyard.

The Philharmonic will provide festive background music to the environmental aspect of the program, which features twelve information booths dealing with the environment.

One of these tables, sponsored by the Council of the Environment of New York City, will allow people to recycle electronic products like computers and cell phones whose contents can be environmentally hazardous.

Another Council of the Environment table deals with recycling of old clothes too dilapidated to be given to charity. The table shows how fibers in clothing can be broken down and used for furniture stuffing and other products.

“The idea is to take obsolete equipment, break it down to its simplest parts, re-using what’s usable and safely discarding what’s not,” described Kenny McLaughlin, a teacher in Grand Street’s arts program and the coordinator of Saturday’s event.

Another interesting booth will address the effects of pollution and global warming on Antarctica. The presentation is the work of Grand Street Campus student Iraida Cabrera, one of a group of 60 international students who went to Antarctica this past year.

The non-profit Rock ‘n’ Renew, which uses music and art to foster sustainable thinking among young people, will have a table as well.

At 1:30 p.m., the action will head down to the auditorium for the seventh and final screening of the Metropolitan Opera.

La Fille de Regiment, a lighthearted opera set during the not-so-lighthearted French Revolution, will fill the 25-foot high-definition screen in the school’s auditorium.

“The quality is crystal clear,” McLaughlin said of the Sony-donated equipment the school uses year-round to enhance teaching and learning.

He added that the auditorium holds around 1,000 people, but because previous screenings have not come close to being sold out, anyone interested in attending this Saturday will get a seat.

Previous operas screened at Grand Street included Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. McLaughlin said that the he and his fellow teachers try to interweave the themes of the opera with other aspects of its curriculum.

“We’re trying to take an interdisciplinary approach through the arts of having kids understand different interpretations of history,” he said.

“Overall, it’s been real positive. The kids have started bringing their friends to the screenings.”

The opera runs from 1:30 p.m. to around 4:15 p.m. with one intermission.

Afterwards, the auditorium will stay open for various performances by students. Included among these are routines by the school’s dance ensemble and a hip-hop dance group along with a poetry reading.

The New York-based band Johnny Lives, whose lead singer, Johnny Dubosky, founded Rock ‘n’ Renew, will perform as well.

Festivities will include with an old-fashioned school dance, which will run from 4p.m. To 7 p.m.


The entire event, which starts at 11 a.m. is free. However, free tickets for the La Fille de Regiment, which goes from 1:30 to 4:!5, must be picked up from the box office.

Grand Street Campus High Schools are located at 850 Grand Street.

For more information, email Kenny McLaughlin at

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