An innovative blend of arts and education in Suffolk

Published 8:27 am Monday, November 13, 2023

Suffolk Center and Suffolk Schools create a perfect synergy for advancing the Arts in the community. This partnership comes in many forms, including displaying Suffolk Public Schools artwork in the Center’s hallways, free School Matinees in the Birdsong Theater, and working with Suffolk Sister Cities International for their annual art exhibition showcasing high school student’s visual art and writing. The Suffolk Center’s ‘Artists in the Schools’ program is another beautiful integration of arts and education.

For many years, pre-pandemic, Suffolk Center offered enriching arts programs to area Schools, both public and private. The Center’s ‘Artists in the Schools’ initiative is back – in a BIG way. This year, the ‘Artists in the Schools’ Program focuses on holidays, special groups, or organizations. The theme of this year’s program is Building Better Cultural and Community Connections, and includes:

September – International Day of Peace


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October – Indigenous People

December – International Day for People with Disabilities

February – Freedom Day

March – International Women in History Day

April – Zhonghe Festival

May – Cinco de Mayo

June – World Environment Day

In September, Suffolk Center’s ‘Artists in the Schools program visited Nansemond Suffolk Academy and celebrated ‘International Day of Peace’ with Elizabeth Brother’s students in grades K – 8. The curriculum focus was “No Bullying Here – We Prefer Kindness.” Through Art, the Center’s Artists in School instructor, Rhona Dawson, worked with 50 students in the 2-hour workshop focusing on creating peace within our community. The ART Focus was making Friendship Bracelets and Key Chains.

In October, Artists in School worked with fourth and fifth-grade students in Suffolk Public School’s TEAMS (Talented Enrichment for Art and Music in Suffolk). They were treated to artistic lessons celebrating Indigenous Peoples Month with a focus: “Dios Los Max Ortiz.” The ART Focus was taught by Karle Beauregard and focused on making Sugar Skull Faux Stained Glass. Ms. Beauregard worked with a total of 11 Suffolk Public Schools and served over 115 students.

The ‘Artists in the Schools’ October DANCE Focus was an interactive Mexican Folklore Dance Workshop taught by Alicia Edwards. ‘The cultural aspects of dance, music, and visual arts were nothing short of outstanding, surpassing the educational standards we consistently strive to achieve for our students. We extend our deepest appreciation to Rick Byrd, Creative Director, for his role in conceiving and overseeing the Suffolk Center’s visiting artist program, which has added these invaluable cultural components that can sometimes be challenging to access for our students.’ stated Dr. Joleen Neighbours, Coordinator of Fine and Performing Arts, Suffolk Public Schools.

To learn more about the Suffolk Center’s ‘Artists in the Schools’ program, contact the Suffolk Center at 757.923.0003. The Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is located in historic downtown Suffolk at 110 West Finney Ave, Suffolk, VA 23434 |