Students at Henry H. Houston School are making their voices heard when it comes to bullying.

Instead of speaking out against it, the students are singing out.

Students unveiled "Bully," the first album to come out of the school, to an audience of teachers, community members and their fellow students last week.

 

The ceremony concluded the yearlong Houston School Anti-Bullying CD Project. Students worked closely with their language arts teachers and community mentors to develop poetry that confronts bullying.

Guided by Houston music teacher Ezechial Thurman and local artists, students performed and recorded the songs in the Henry H. Houston recording studio dubbed Rural Lane Records. Musical genres were selected to reflect the cultural diversity of the Houston School and the Mt. Airy community. 

The studio gives students the opportunity to work in a real recording studio. Money for the recording project came from Public Citizens for Children and Youth's Picasso Project, the Mt. Airy/Chestnut Hill Teacher's Fund and from the school. The local nonprofit Action Harvest, Inc. offered up their network of artists to mentor the students

"Today teachers have less and less to work with in classrooms," said Ken Weinstein, who founded the Mt. Airy/Chestnut Hill Teacher's Fund in 2007 after realizing that many local teachers paid out of pocket for educational projects and supplies due to a lack of funding.

In the aftermath of over 3,700 administrators, teachers and support staff positions being cut from the School District of Philadelphia's payrolls earlier this month, support from outside organizations has become particularly valuable. Funding reserved for music and art programs, libraries, guidance counselors and other forms of student support have been cut dramatically.

"These types of projects are extremely important at a time like this," said Weinstein.

"We have to provide the music and arts when they're getting cut in schools," said Ellie Seif, photographer and liasion for the Picasso Project Grant on behalf of the Public Citizens for Children and Youth. The group works to increase art education in Philadelphia schools.

Elizabeth Diane Sim and Brianna Michelle Bosak are students at Temple University. Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a NewsWorks content partner, is an initiative of the Temple Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.