P.S. 119 Amersfort School of Social Awareness

P.S. 119 Amersfort School of Social Awareness

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Archive for September, 2012

Give Me a Banjo! From Africa to America – The story of how a musical instrument shaped American music


The piano may do for lovesick girls who lace themselves to skeletons, and lunch on chalk, pickles, and slate pencils. But give me the banjo… When you want genuine music—music that will come right home to you like a bad quarter, suffuse your system like strychnine whiskey…ramify your whole constitution like the measles, and break out on your hide like the pin-feather pimples on a picked goose—when you want all this, just smash your piano, and invoke the glory-beaming banjo! ~ Mark Twain, Early Tales and Sketches, Vol 2 (1864-65)


Pete Seeger, seen here in 2009 with a banjo.

WITH A BANJO ON HIS KNEE – The banjo is an African instrument that was introduced to the American musical genre by African slaves during the earliest of Colonial Times. Pete Seeger’s first recordings for children featured his banjo playing.

A Brief History of the Banjo

Modern banjo-playing has historical roots that go back over 150 years to late 19th and early 20th century classic banjo styles, mid-19th century minstrel banjo styles, and even earlier African musical influences.

The idea of stretching a skin tightly across a resonating chamber, attaching a neck, adding one or more drone strings, and playing the resulting instrument in a rhythmical and percussive manner originated with West Africans, who were forcibly imported as slaves to the New World. African and early African-American banjos consisted of a gourd or a carved wood body with a stretched skin head and usually little more than a stick for a neck.

The first banjo-type instruments in the Americas were documented in the Caribbean as early as 1689, and the first mention of the banjo in the American colonies occurred in 1754 (where it is called a “banjer” in a Maryland newspaper).

When Africans and Europeans came together in North America, they had enough similarity in their ideas and attitudes about music for a new musical synthesis to occur despite the dramatically unequal status of black and white populations. In large part, the history of American music, from minstrelsy to jazz, rock ‘n’ roll to rap music, is the story of this continuing convergence of musical sensibilities.

The mid-19th-century minstrel banjo is one of the first manifestations of the meeting of these musical worlds. Along with the fiddle, the banjo was the most popular instrument in African-American music in the United States through the 18th and into the 19th century. In the early 1800s, white musicians began to take up the banjo in imitation of southern African-American players. By the mid-1800s, white professional stage performers had popularized the banjo all across the United States and in England and had begun their own banjo traditions as they popularized new songs. Because these musicians usually performed with blackened faces, they came to be known as blackface minstrels.

Because the minstrel stage depicted slaves and southern life in inaccurate and degrading ways, there are many negative aspects to the legacy of blackface minstrelsy. Nevertheless, as part of America’s first nationally popular music, minstrelsy served to popularize the banjo and make it an instrument shared by both white and black populations. With this popularity came the publication of the first instruction manuals for the instrument and the first factory-made banjos in the 1840s. Soon after, five strings became the accepted norm for banjos, and five-string banjos are the norm today.


PEACE DAY! By Gurpreet Kaur Multani

 Peace day is a peaceful  event where we go around the neighborhood and spread peace.We spread peace by saying no violence only peace. On Peace day we have to be kind and nice to each other.This is something like how peace day went. First we had to go outside and give our finger prints on the peace sign.Then right after lunch we had peace day I was so excited also I could not wait longer.Before I new it ,it was peace day. We all went outside and unrolled our poster then Ms.Fernandez  said “OUR PEACE MARCH  IS ABOUT TO BEGIN. So slowly we headed out. As soon as we got out we got out we started yelling ”WHAT DO WE WANT? PEACE! WHEN DO WANT IT? NOW!” We kept on cheering and marching till we reached avenue J park. When reached avenue J park, Mr. Jump started taking pictures of us cheering and marching. The people, or our audience thought it was wonderful. Slowly, we headed back to the P.S. 119 schoolyard. And guess what! I even saw my aunt! When we reached the schoolyard, Mr. Jump sang the song ”If I had a Hammer” by Peter Seeger. It was awesome. Then, some of the teachers said the peace builders

pledge in different languages. Even though I speak punjabi, I understood Urdu. After that, we let our peace balloons go into the sky. It was a beautiful view and this is what peace day was like in P.S. 119 on September 20, 2012.

International Peace Day By: Zuri Kwesi 4-203

On Peace Day, September Twenty First , 2012, I had an amazing time! My friends were holding up the peace poster. We were studying Michelle Obama. She was the first First Lady to plant the White House garden. Mr. Warfield played on a peace marching drum with two fifth grade boys . The entire school loved the peace march. The entire school also made peace pins. On mine I wrote “World Peace.” We marched around the school and through a park . This peace day was crazier than last years. I loved everything about peace day. But the  best thing I loved was that I got to be with my friends and have a great time. See you next peace day!

Reporter Kensciana Charles on the Scene (The Death of Whitney Houston)

Many people are wondering how did the singer Whitney Houston die.

Well reporter Kensciana  Charles is on the scene.

I could tell you one thing she died before the movie she stars witch is…………Sparkle.

For more info stay tuned to Reporter Kensciana Cherles on the Scene.

Candy Sale News Reporter By: Stephane Leigh Charles 5-305

Thursday September 8th was the candy sale.I wanted to ask some students in grade 5 there opinions about the Candy sale.

Sapphire-‘ The Candy Sale was fun because it is fun sell candy to friends and people you know.

Christina-‘  I thought that it was great because the school is donating money to help other people and include other people to help give money.

Starr-‘I felt  elated because I can help people raise money to our school.

Harpreet-‘ I thought that the Candy Sale was fun because it is fun to sell candy to people to get a  better education. Also I think it is very important that we can’t talk to strangers.

Nicholas-‘ I was elated at the Candy Sale because you help raise money for school and you could win prizes.

Davone-‘ I think that the  Candy Sale was  overpriced because you can by a Gaints bookbag   for   $   3.99 but in the Candy Sale you have to earn $100 for the Gaints bookbag.

Kelan-‘ I think that the Candy Sale was a good way to earn money for the school investments.

Aaron-‘ I think  it is really easy way to earn money for the school after all you can’t spell fundraiser without fun.

Marryyam -‘ I was happy because some  of my friends got to answer questions.

Kwamesha- I was happy because the candy man was funny.

Deanna-‘ I think it was fun because there was lots of prizes.

Lourdenie-‘ It was fun and ixpireing  Because it really helps the school.

Stacey-‘ It was very fun because there was cool prizes.

Kristin-‘  I think it is fun because it is fun to sell candy to people.

Ethan-‘ I enjoyed the candy sale  because I could get fun prizes. 

Aaliyah-‘ I think that the candy salewas a surprise because we never knew it was going to be at 9:30.

Miryam (5-305)-I think it was nice we get to sell candy get prizes and we get top help our school.

This is what some 5 graders said.  Also remember never talk to strangers.

Hey Every one! by Ali Akhtar now in/going the grade

People how are you? So far I am having a great summer! I went to Brighton and Plum beaches.I went to Marine park, but not to Pakistan this year!

Still I’ll miss the school. You fifth, fourth, third, second, first and Kindergarten folks.

PS my little brother will come in school on September.


Candy Sale by Taisha

Candy Sale by Taisha Charles
If this is your first year at PS 119, then you have a lot to learn. And one important thing to learn about is the CANDY SALE! The money we raise from the candy sale is used to buy things we need in school. The Candy Sale is a fundraiser to raise funds or money for the school.
First of all, there is always a due date for the sale to end and this year that date is October 15th. So that means by October 15th your package with all of your sales orders must be brought in. Oh, and always remember DTTS. That means Don’t talk to strangers. Plus even if you only sell one thing you still at least participated and you still get a storybook as a prize. Sapphire had this to say about the Candy Sale: The Candy Sale was fun because it is fun to sell candy to friends and people that you know.” Christina added, “I think it is a great idea to sell candy to help the school buy new things.” Mrs. Rivieccio said, “I think the Candy Sale is important because it raised money for out school.” Kenny said, “ I think the sale is fun because we get to give people candy and the reward for our school is money to buy things we need. ”Kristin said, “I think it’s a good way to help the PTA and the school.”
The best part about the Candy Sale is that the top selling classes get a pizza party. What about the other classes you say? Well if every one in the class sells even one item then the prizes are doubled for that class. Top sellers get entered into a contest to win a DVD. By the way there are over 65 prizes in all you can win.
So there you have it. What are you reading this for? Go out there and get to selling!

Want a hero? Look to Pete Seeger The singer, New York born and bred, has a legacy of optimism and activism by Peter Dreier NY DAILY NEWS

Pete Seeger, seen here in 2009.

WITH A BANJO ON HIS KNEE – The banjo is an African instrument that was introduced to the American musical genre by African slaves during the earliest of Colonial Times. Pete Seeger’s first recordings for children featured his banjo playing. 

To everything, there is a season, according to Pete Seeger’s song, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” drawn from the Book of Ecclesiastes. This is the season for New Yorkers and all Americans to honor Seeger. Now 93, the Manhattan-born troubadour  has devoted his life to educating Americans and the world about peace, social justice, the environment and our country’s musical tradition.

Why not at least name a city public school after the man? His legacy begins, of course, with music. The hundreds of songs Seeger has written or popularized as a member of The Weavers and as a solo artist have sent powerful messages of tolerance and hope. Seeger turned “We Shall Overcome” into a civil rights standard and a global anthem for human rights. He popularized his friend Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” now our unofficial national anthem. His anti-war tunes “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “If I Had a Hammer,” helped inspire the 1950s battle against nuclear weapons and the 1960s movement against the Vietnam War. He also introduced millions of Americans to songs from other cultures, like “Wimoweh” and “Guantanamera.”

But Seeger’s activism extends far beyond the guitar and concert hall. In addition to being a World War II veteran, Seeger has been on the front lines of every major social justice crusade during his lifetime: labor unions and migrant workers in the 1930s and 1940s, the banning of nuclear weapons and opposition to the Cold War in the 1950s, civil rights and the anti-war movement in the 1960s, opposition to South African apartheid in the 1970s and, always, human rights throughout the world. He’s seen his share of controversy. In the 1950s and early 1960s, Seeger was blacklisted for his left-wing views. Commercial television and radio networks banned Seeger and his songs.

But in response to being blacklisted, Seeger parlayed his talents into doing good. He taught guitar and banjo, played for schools and at summer camps and recorded albums for children. During those years, Seeger planted many seeds. The youngsters who heard him became political activists and spread the gospel of folk and protest music. That’s how, more than anyone else, Seeger catalyzed the folk music revival that inspired the careers of performers like Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Kingston Trio, Phil Ochs and Joan Baez — and later Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello. Seeger has always had a special relationship with New York. Born in Manhattan in 1919, he lived in the city from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. He then moved to Beacon, an hour up the Hudson River, where he built his own log cabin house, where he’s lived ever since. And that’s where another major strand of his legacy has taken root: environmental stewardship.

In 1966, Seeger launched the nonprofit Clearwater project, dedicated to cleaning up the Hudson River. The effort, at first written off as simplistic and naive, helped inspire the environmental movement. The Hudson, once filled with oil pollution, sewage and toxic chemicals is now swimmable. Through unrelenting optimism, Seeger endured and overcame the controversies triggered by his activism. Yes, he has gotten honors — a Kennedy Center Award from former President Bill Clinton — and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But the city of his birth, the state that has been his home for nearly a century, has yet to honor him in a manner befitting his tremendous influence.

Before Pete Seeger’s fingers can strum no longer, let’s pay respect to his life and legacy. Begin by naming a public school after him. In fact, a committee of civic leaders should nominate Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize, recognizing his role in bringing the world closer together. Dreier teaches politics at Occidental College and is author of “The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame.”

Other references:

The Line Up By Gurpreet Kaur Multani 4-203

It was the first day of school, I was nervous. I was talking to Rabia. The sky was light blue and the sun was shining bright. I was wondering if my teacher was nice or not that nice. Many of the students in my class were with me for a lot of years. It was very noisy in the schoolyard. I think that was because friends were meeting again and new students were making friends. I was also very exited to meet my old fellow classmates that I didn’t meet all summer. I was very happy to see my old teacher, Mrs. Heyms. After a while, Ms. Fernandez said ”One, Two, all hands are up!” Then she started to introduce herself to the new students in the school. Many new students were crying because they wanted to stay with their parents. Then came my teacher. By the look of her face I knew the school year was going to be great. What did you think…………??

Pete Seeger By Harpreet Kaur Multani 3-503

Have you ever heard the song “If I Had A Hammer”? If you have, you might know who it is by. Well, the person who sang this song Peter Seegar. This is some information about him and how he came up with this song.

Peter Seegar was born in May 3, 1919 in the United States, Mahattan. Pete Seegar plays the banjo, guitar, recorder, mandolin,piano, and a ukulele. Pete Seegar is an American folk singer. Peter Seegar heard many bands when he was young. Pete Seegar is a professional singer because of where he heard music when he was young. For example, when Pete was young, he went to western North Carolina near Asheville with his father and stepmother to hear the five string banjo. Also, there th Seegars heard many square-dance groups performing such as Bear Wallow and Happy Wallow. Pete Seegar grew up listening to many bands and decided to make his own band.

Pete Seegar has sang and played many songs such as ”If I Had a Hammer” in 1998 and ”At the Village Gate” in 1960. ”If I had a Hammer” is a song of hope and struggle



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