Harry Moore Scholar Brings Art Into Focus

By in In The Community on July 17, 2013

Even though Jeffrey Meris was busy preparing for his studies in sculpture at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the new recipient of the Harry Moore Memorial Scholarship in the Arts took the time to help realise a long-held dream of the Lyford Cay Foundation’s FOCUS programme.

Tucked away on a wall of the S Block in The College of the Bahamas stands a newly painted mural that celebrates the success of the groundbreaking school enrichment initiative.

Launched in 2011, FOCUS (‘Forward and Onward to College. Upward to Success.’), recruits motivated fourth graders from the northwestern public school district of New Providence and sets them on an eight-year path to college and career success. FOCUS provides 45 additional days of teaching to its students annually, free of charge, through a project-based curriculum that combines formal learning with a host of fun and hands-on educational activities.

The idea for a mural was originally proposed by Bahamian artist Antonius Roberts as a project for last summer, but scheduling did not work out. The mural concept resurfaced when Jeffrey Meris heard one of the FOCUS students, Edwin Simmons—now immortalised on the wall painting—speak about overcoming his academic struggles through the programme during the Foundation’s annual reception for scholars in December.

“It’s at this tender age when you decide what you’d like to do in life, even subliminally,” said Meris. “This programme means a lot because it’s not just the traditional kind of club that I feel are geared towards academically inclined kids. FOCUS offers children a second chance, and after the Lyford Cay Foundation took a chance on me by awarding me the Harry Moore Scholarship, I want to give back in the most meaningful way possible.”

Meris points out that besides breathing new life into the COB campus, the mural also develops in the young students an appreciation for art and creativity. Each of the 70 FOCUS pupils had a chance to add to the project—especially Kendra Hall, whose knack for sketching earned her the responsibility of recreating the iconic palm trees from the Lyford Cay Foundation and FOCUS logos for the mural.

“My favourite part about the mural was drawing my palm—it felt good to compete and win for that,” said Kendra, whose dream is to study art and psychology. “It’s fun, it’s creative and it teaches us about painting. The mural says to other people that there is another class here in the College to focus on the future with them.”

FOCUS Programme Director Felicity Humblestone was thrilled to see how eagerly Meris and the students collaborated to bring the project to life—especially as the summer curriculum at FOCUS centered on the importance of teamwork, to which Meris added the crucial role that mentorship can play.

“I think it was important and interesting for them to see and understand what they were taught during the summer through a project like this,” said Humblestone. “I was impressed with how enthusiastic Jeffrey was about the programme and how eager he was to help. I think it’s important for Foundation scholars to be engaged and for our FOCUS students to make the connection with real people who embody what we are hoping to achieve with this programme.”

Photos by Bahamas Visual Services and FOCUS staff.

Source: Lyford Cay Foundation

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