Hannah Jin Cole, a violist, listens to a student’s question after her group Sebastian’s Trio performed on Thursday, Oct. 4 in J.S. Jenks Elementary School’s auditorium. The performance was part of a community open house. (Photo by Sue Ann Rybak)

by Sue Ann Rybak

The J.S. Jenks Elementary School wanted the Chestnut Hill Community and local businesses and organizations “to see first hand the energy and talent of it’s students,” so it held an open house on Oct. 4.

Principal Mary Lynskey said she wanted the community to get to know Jenks.

“We don’t want people to say ‘I know Jenks – it’s that building with the playground,’” Lynskey said.

Lynskey said Jenks has a lot of wonderful programs, but that, unfortunately, people in the community don’t know about them. She said the school wanted to “reintroduce everyone to Jenks.”

The community open house included a tour of the school, choir performances by students and a classical music concert performed by The Sebastian Trio for participants and Jenks Art and Music (J.A.M.) students.

Also held that day was a session of the Jenks Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (R.S.V.P.)

Through a partnership with Klein Jewish Community Center in Northeast Philadelphia, retired volunteers assist students in Jenks’ “Art goes to School” program.

Renee Warnick, violist in the Sebastian Trio, said music is important because it helps students deal with the pressures of school.

“Sometimes there are feelings that we have inside that you can’t find the words to express, and music allows you to express those emotions,” said Warnick, whose two children attend Jenks.

Hannah Jin Cole, a violist, said being involved in a choir or band helps children feel like they belong and fit in.

“It’s a way to develop friendships with a diverse group of people,” Jin Cole said. “It decreases bullying by providing opportunities for children to interact socially.”

She added that research has found that students involved in music programs report feeling less peer pressure.

Warnick said that because the skills required to play an instrument are difficult, students usually are not successful the very first time they play a piece.

“That’s something that everybody needs to learn, that even if you aren’t successful on your first try, then you try again and it gets a little easier,” Warnick said.

She said children learn the importance of perseverance and begin to apply it to different aspects of their life.

Warnick recalled how it was a struggle for her son Drew to practice

“He finished playing his piece the other day and said, ‘I have this weird feeling that maybe I like playing the piano,’” Warnick said. “And that was the best thing I could hear as a parent that it surprised him he felt good at the end of his lesson – that what he did made him feel good inside.”

Andrew Leland, a music teacher at Jenks, said he sees the positive effects of music education on students everyday. Leland said music allows children to grow emotionally and affects many different facets of learning.

“I see students all the time who struggle, behaviorally and academically, but once music enters into the picture their behavior and grades improve,” Leland said. ,

Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, Jenks lost its drum and art teacher. The school currently has two full-time music teachers. Through partnerships with World Café Live, the Academy of Music and many other organizations, the school hopes to continue to grow and expand its musical program. Leland said J.A.M. students recently attended the opera La Boheme at the Academy of Music free of charge.