Trenton Elementary School performs at Young Audiences Gala to Celebrate Adopt-A-School Program¹s 10th Anniversary

Date: May 18, 2016

Denyce Mylson
Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania
609-243-9000 x202
[email protected]

Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School Dazzles!

Trenton Elementary School performs at Young Audiences Gala to Celebrate Adopt-A-School Program’s 10th Anniversary

PRINCETON, NJ; May 18, 2016 — On Saturday, April 2, Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania (YA), the area’s largest arts education non-profit, celebrated the 10th Anniversary of one of their most successful initiatives, the Trenton Adopt-A-School Program with a special black tie gala, Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom, Anything Goes at the Princeton Hyatt. The highlight of the evening was a very special performance by students from Trenton’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School that participated in a dance residency led by YA Master Teaching Artist, Marck “Flaco” Best, as part of the initiative.

Mr. Flaco taught 40 3rd and 4th grade students from MLK School two Latin dances over 8 weeks – the Bachata and the Merengue. “Before dancing with Mr. Flaco, I never knew I could dance,” expressed a 4th grade student from MLK School that participated in Mr. Flaco’s dance residency.

“The change I have seen in these students from day one until now is a complete 180,” shared Mr. Flaco.

Josephine Estrada, the Vice Principal at MLK School said, “This is a first opportunity to experience dance for many students in the classroom. It is also supporting the teachers in the classroom.”

In 2006, YA launched the Trenton Adopt-A-School Program in response to the elimination of the arts in the city’s public schools. The first year four schools were served and each year since the program has grown. YA now serves every elementary and middle school in Trenton and has expanded to Ewing, Lawrence, and Camden. Generous support from corporations, foundations, and individuals, has made this success possible.

“ETS is so pleased to support the Adopt-A-School Initiative that brings the arts into Trenton, Ewing, Lawrence, and now Camden public schools,” shared Lenora Green from Educational Testing Service. “We know the importance of arts education and the creativity and learning that it encourages in our students. All children deserve to have access to high-quality arts programs in their schools.”

In Trenton, YA annually serves 9,000 students and 150 teachers in 19 elementary and middle schools. “The arts programs strengthen academic concepts, bring a diverse perspective to learning, encourage positive choices, build character, and promote hard work and student achievement,” shared Karen Baker an Art Teacher from Village Charter School that is part of YA’s Adopt-a-School Program.

“I truly believe in a triple “A” education for all students. Our students deserve to have access to high quality Academics, Athletics and the Arts,’ expressed Lucy Feria Trenton’s Interim Superintendent of Schools. “Through the many partnerships with arts organizations, like Young Audiences, we are able to provide our students more access and equity to the arts during the school day. We know that students are motivated by the arts as it makes learning fun and joyful.”

Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom raised over $190,000 and all donations will support YA in its mission to inspire young people and expand their learning through the arts. The generous donations included $54,450 that was raised specifically for YA’s Adopt-a-School Program in celebration of the initiatives 10th anniversary serving Trenton’s children.

Funding provides a year’s worth of arts programming to a school:

  • Performances by YA artists or groups that transform an “all -purpose” space into a performance hall, giving many students their first chance to experience a LIVE production.
  • Hands-on art-making workshops that turn an ordinary classroom into an artist’s studio for students to connect with their personal creativity guided by a professional artist.
  • Teaching artist-led professional development for teachers so they can learn to use the arts to teach across the curriculum.

Angela Guagliardi, ESL Teacher at Robbins Elementary School shared, “Because of Adopt-A-School, our students have enjoyed an African play, a dance troupe, a mime, tap dancers, and a graphic novelist. Without this program, our children never would have had these experiences. Both the staff and students here at Robbins deeply appreciate this program and look forward to its continued success in Trenton”

YA President & CEO Michele Russo expressed “This celebration of arts education is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of our board of trustees and staff. When arts education supporters – both veteran and new to this cause – come out to support us with donations and enthusiasm, it reaffirms our commitment to serving every child every year with the best in arts education.”

For more information about YA’s Adopt-A-School Program go to

For more information about Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom and to see pictures and performance videos from the evening go to

YA’s Adopt-A-School Program received support from generous sponsors, including CMX Community Foundation, Educational Testing Service, Horizon Foundation, Wachovia Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, PSEG, Verizon Foundation, Carley Foundation, Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, NRG Energy, Inc., Frank S. Flowers Foundation, Princeton Area Community Foundation, Bloomingdales Fund of the Macy’s Foundation, Meta A. and William S. Griffith Foundation, Morton and Donna Collins Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company, Charles Ewing Fund of The Princeton Area Community Foundation, James E. and Diane W. Burke Foundation.

Maestro Flaco teaching ballroom dance to MLK Students

Martin Luther King, Jr. students engaged in a dance residency led by YA Master Teaching Artist, Marck “Flaco” Best.

MLK Students Dazzle!

Students from Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School performing at Young Audiences’ Gala Benefit. Photo Credit Frank Veronsky

Video: MLK Students Dazzle! –

More photos and original video files available upon request.

Founded in 1973, Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania is the premier arts-in-education resource in the region, providing high-quality performances and artist-in-residence programs to nearly 700 schools each year. Young Audiences’ extensive professional artist roster represents all art forms—from dance and theater to music, language and visual arts. The organization annually reaches nearly 500,000 children pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

A not-for-profit organization, Young Audiences’ programs are accessible to all socio-economic, ethnic, cultural, and geographic communities, and are designed to strengthen the arts in schools, meet local and state curriculum standards, involve families in arts activities, and enrich cultural life in New Jersey and Pennsylvania communities.

Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania is the first arts education organization designated as a major service organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and, as part of the national network of Young Audiences, Inc., was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. Young Audiences programs are made possible in part through a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State and Pennsylvania Council of the Arts. Additional funding comes from foundations, corporations and generous individuals. To learn more, visit To be “social” with us, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @YANJEPA and on Instagram @young_audiences_njepa.