the Concord Magazine May/June 2001
The Ezine for and about Concord, Massachusetts

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Musketaquid: Art Healing Community Ties


By Deborah Bier, publisher and editor of this ezine.

Musketaquid Earth Day Special SectionGood things happen when creative and interesting people come together. This is what happened when Concord Carlisle High School (CCHS) students joined the Earth Day opening event sponsored by the Emerson Umbrella and the Musketiquid Organization in Concord on April 25, 2001. The Umbrella and Musketiquid were old friends; it was the partnership with CCHS that left many adults and students buzzing -- and with a better understanding of and appreciation for one another.

In the process of preparing these pages for the Concord Magazine, the students and I talked about how they felt working with these community groups. Because there seemed to be some strong feelings involved, their teacher, Ms. Aguilar, agreed to ask them to write on the topic. Our conversations, their writing, and similar discussions I've had with high school students over the past 18 months resulted in this article.

Some Teens Feel Disrespected and Cut Off
Their participation represented a welcome and gratifying change in the minds of some of the teenaged participants. In many instances, our community's teens feel themselves on the outside of our community looking in. The lack of places for teens to gather and a dearth of non-school activities seems to some students to reflect a lack of caring by the community about their needs.

Some students recognize a multi-dimensional aspect to the problem, with students also being too busy with the school workload to become very involved in the community. Others simply take it more personally, ending up feeling hurt, rejected, and misunderstood.

In addition, some students report being the recipients of age-related prejudice when they are in public. They feel they are regarded with quick suspicion and automatic disapproval by those older. They report not being treated as respectfully and courteously by adults as other adults are. Quite a number believe this is a result of negative stereotypes older community members hold about teenagers in general.

Performance Breaks Down Barriers
This atmosphere of mistrust and lack of appreciation leaves students with many feelings, including a need to demonstrate their worth. In the process of creating, rehearsing and performing their work, students and adults alike got a chance to experience one another in quite a different light.

As a result of being asked to perform, the students felt reached out for and appreciated by their elders. They were impressed and inspired by the passion the Muskitiquid members felt about their cause. And some of the adults had to adjust their previously-held notions of the teenagers' capabilities of sharply upward.

Musketaquid's Purpose Fulfilled
The way this dramatic presentation helped heal community ties between teens and adults is in keeping with the purpose of Musketaquid's goals. "Our mission is to build community through art and the love of the environment," said Jeannie Abbott, a Musketiquid steering committee member. "The high school students used the creative process so beautifully to connect to nature right where we live. Several of us were very deeply touched by their contribution. It's exactly what we have been working toward for years."

Abbott also pointed out the success of their presentation is a perfect example of how the arts feed all the other academic disciplines. "We find that, too, in the lower grades involved in Musketaquid. For example, the Alcott School students' projects connected their science study to the puppets they carried in our parade." [Illustrated in Abbott's drawing on this page's background]

Owl photos: ArtToday
Artwork: Jeannie Abbott for Musketaquid.


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