Driftwood, Rock Star will host youth arts showcase in January

The creativity spotlight will shine on the corner of Raymond and University avenues on Friday, Jan. 10, when students from the St. Paul Public Schools Lab program showcase their art, poetry and performance work at Driftwood Community Arts and Rockstar Supply Co.

Youth Arts Intersection will begin with an art show and reception at 5:30 p.m. at Driftwood, 777 Raymond Ave., where nearly 200 students in the Lab program will display their work. Then the event will move to Rock Star Supply Co., 2388 University Ave., for performances that will include spoken word, theater and dance.

The Lab is a mobile arts and wellness-based program that offers therapeutic services to students who fall under the Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD) umbrella in St. Paul Public Schools. It currently works in 11 middle and high schools in the district, including Murray Middle School, Como Park Senior High and Central High School, but will expand to 14 schools soon, said program director Theresa Pease.

The program was started by Mary Tinucci in 2004 at Homecroft Elementary School. Pease joined the Lab in 2008. At that time, students were either bussed or taxied to Homecroft, where they were immersed in art, wellness groups, music and writing groups, yoga, mindfulness and martial arts, Pease said.

Many of the students involved in the Lab have multiple challenges in their lives that include poverty, violence, loss, grief, chemical abuse in the family and high mobility, Pease said. After attending the Lab, “kids would come to us and say they feel calm in that space. Kids who wouldn’t have named themselves as poets took on that title.”

The students gain confidence and competence, and that helps them academically, Pease said.

Three years ago, the program moved to Journeys Secondary School near West Seventh Street and became a mobile program where the services are brought to the students.

January’s Youth Arts Intersection will be a showcase but also a fundraiser for the program, which is funded in part through the school district but also depends on grants and other sources. CDs and anthologies of the students’ work will be on sale, as well as the art at Driftwood.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet some of the therapeutic dogs from Paws for Learning, an organization that brings dog teams into Twin Cities schools to work weekly with students.

If you are interested in getting involved with the event as a sponsor or volunteer, contact Pease at Theresa.Pease@spps.org.