McManus selected for arts program that promotes global understanding

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McManus Middle School has been chosen to take part in the United We Create Project, whose goal is to promote understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim students in Grades K through 8 through in the arts.

The project is sponsored by Young Audiences, an arts-in-education organization serving New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

Students, teachers, and families will participate in the United We Create Project through storytelling, visual arts, music, drumming, and poetry to learn about Muslim cultures around the world and improve understanding of connections and shared values among different religions and cultures.

“We’re ecstatic to see our school’s mission and vision continue to grow through this full-funded arts education program,” said McManus Principal Atiya Perkins, who led the application process along with vocal music teacher Courtney Serpone and English as a Second Language teacher Faten Sumrein.

United We Create help participating schools increase positive perceptions of Muslim identities and build connected communities. Students will explore the history and culture of a variety of Muslim-majority countries through the arts, while recognizing uplifting Muslim traditions.

“At McManus, we celebrate community, courage, and change, and empower our learners daily to embrace their diversity to gain a deeper understanding of the global community around them,” Perkins said. “The world is smaller than we think, and the arts are essential in providing a universal language that connects us all in a meaningful way.”

The United We Create Project is offered free to selected schools. These programs are valued at $18,500. That includes two professional development days for faculty; one assembly focusing on music, movement, and arts from Muslim cultures; two days of in-class workshops led by a Young Audiences artist; a focus group of teachers and students to discuss their journey in the program; and a parent night event.

McManus is one of just five schools chosen to participate, based on an application that highlighted the school’s sense of community.

“We promote a sense of belonging by developing an inclusive environment built around diversity, self-awareness, and personalized learning experiences,” the application read. “Our goal is to inspire lifelong global learners who are committed to creating meaningful contributions beyond the walls of our school.”

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