students at Archer Elementary, allowing them to actually see what’s possible if they work hard and persevere. Telling kids that hard work will lead to success is important, but they cannot visualize what they have no construct for; however, spending time with successful, older students who were also Archer Shakespeareans and who take school seriously is much more meaningful and inspiring.
By participating in The Archer Shakespeareans, students have learned an enormous amount of vocabulary, developed confidence in their abilities, become strong public speakers, discovered that hard work and perseverance lead to success, developed their ability to focus, learned to work as a team, found out that mistakes lead to learning, gained a great appreciation for Shakespeare, and experienced the joy of making music.
The students that join The Archer Shakespeareans live in the poorest congressional district in the United States. Ninety-eight percent of the students are children of color and ninety percent qualify for free lunch. The Archer Shakespeareans is the only theater program in the community and the only music program in this area of the Bronx that allows students to study and become proficient at playing a musical instrument without charge.
The program provides an opportunity for students to explore a high-level text through dramatic conventions that they do not ordinarily use in their classrooms. As Shakespeareans they live the story, consequently developing their abilities to empathize with characters and, most importantly, with each other. The skills that
they develop transfer to the academic classroom where they work harder and improve their academic skills. The Archer Shakespeareans also allows students to receive music education at least four days a week. Students learn how to play several instruments and perform in a real rock band. Children who are practicing at home, as indicated by their quickly developing skills, receive their own instruments to keep. This is an important component of the program because their parents are often unable to afford the purchase of an instrument. The amount of focus required to play music together is immense, and this improved ability to focus leads to greater academic success.
Unfortunately, funding for after-school programs is severely limited. To address this problem, Friends of The Archer Shakespeareans, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), was formed by Will
The Archer Shakespeareans is a nine month long theater and music program at Archer Elementary School P.S. 531 in the Bronx that provides fourth through seventh grade students with the opportunity to read, enjoy, analyze, and perform a Shakespeare play, as well as learn how to play in a real rock band. Graduates of the program return as mentors to younger students. The purpose of The Archer Shakespeareans program is to help students at Archer Elementary School develop skills, knowledge, and character traits that will contribute to their success in middle school, high school, college, and their professional lives. The students at Archer Elementary School are learning life lessons, through the disciplined study of Shakespeare and music, that will serve them well in all areas of their lives.
The fourth through eighth grade students who are Archer Shakespeareans are studying and performing The Tempest this year. They are also learning how to play in a rock band and performing music as part of the production. Another vital component of The Archer Shakespeareans is that former students who are in middle school and high school (and eventually college) return to help with the Shakespeare play and to be mentors to current 4th and 5th grade
Taylor, Rory O’Malley, and Raul Salinas to raise money to fund The Archer Shakespeareans program and to expand the services it provides. Friends of The Archer Shakespeareans intends to further level the playing field for low-income public school students by awarding grants to selected students for (i) private instruction in an instrument, academic subject, or artistic field if they have demonstrated a passion for an instrument, academic subject, or artistic field; and (ii) various and necessary college education costs including, but not limited to, technology, books, school supplies, and meal plans.
By continuing to support the passions and interests of Archer Shakespearean students by offering life-changing opportunities that they would not otherwise have, Friends of The Archer Shakespeareans will help students break the cycle of poverty that our current education system unfortunately perpetuates.