Sunday, May 8, 2011

AFH Expands Its Commitment to Education; 23 AFH Seniors Graduate from High School this June

AFH has expanded its support for its youth artists with a full time Education Director, Lesley Horrall now on board. As AFH's first full-time staff person dedicated to education, Lesley is actively expanding and strengthening AFH's role in helping youth artists negotiate the process of completing high school, applying to college, and seeking scholarships. Lesley joins two part-time education coordinators at AFH, Mollie Ross and Sneha Shrestha, who have been providing important help to this year's high school seniors.

AFH's education program requires that all youth artists with a GPA below a 2.0 attend tutoring twice a week. The goal is for every AFH youth artist graduating from high school to be ready to pursue college studies. Through one-on-one meetings and coaching sessions, AFH helps the youth artists define their goals and fill out college and scholarship applications. AFH also brings in representatives from college prep programs such as ACCESS, who give informative workshops about the college process.

Twenty-three seniors will graduate from both High School and AFH this Spring. Most will be going on to college and most will qualify for scholarships. So, where are they going? We checked in with a few graduating seniors.

Natalie Myrthil, who works in the painting studio, has always loved art but her high school in Roslindale cut the art program because of lack of funding. She started at AFH in her junior year and says she enjoys creating paintings that "go against stereotypes." She says, "I usually do portraits but I like to use unexpected colors for skin tones and hair." Natalie will be attending Holy Cross next Fall and she was thrilled to received a Gates Millenium "Last Dollar" Scholarship! Started in 1999 by Bill and Melinda Gates, the Gates Millenium Scholarships are intended for academically talented minority students from low-income households. These last dollar grants fund the difference that is leftover for college expenses after all other financial aid is considered. Natalie learned about the Gates Scholarship opportunity last fall through Mollie at AFH. Mollie and others at AFH helped her with the scholarship application. She is undecided as to what her major will be, but is interested in Criminology. She also loves dance, performing arts and fashion design.

Natalie Myrthil will attend Holy Cross in September

Takii Samuels has been an AFH youth artist since his high school freshman year. He says "I like to paint realistic subjects in a loose style." Examples of his style can be seen in the two small portraits of his twin brother and his brother's girlfriend. Takii recently transferred from the Boston Arts Academy to Arlington High School, where he is a Metco student. Next year, Takii plans to attend Bunker Hill or Middlesex Community College with an ultimate goal to attend MassArt. He says, "I have to take some baby steps before I get to the real thing." Takii says he appreciates the help he has received from AFH staff in filling out college application and scholarship forms. He loves helping his AFH peers with troublesome painting problems. "The best thing about AFH is that it has given me the opportunity to teach others", he says. After college, he wants to find a job in Arts Education.

Takii Samuels and his portrait of his brother.
Takii plans to attend community college next year.

Alicia Jenkins has been an AFH youth artist for the past two years. She says, "I am going to miss AFH next year!" She will be attending Rhode Island College and intends to study social work, possibly minoring in art. While in college, she would like to help out in an after-school arts program - either as a job or as a volunteer. "AFH really helped me through the college process. They had people come from ACCESS and I learned a lot about financial aid. The AFH staff also helped me with housing and clarifying and understanding the letters I received."

Alicia Jenkins will attend Rhode Island College in the Fall

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