On Thursday, November 4 over 100 people gathered at Dearborn Academy for the 11th Annual Luncheon in support of the Arts and Shop Programs. The event raised over $15,000 to enable the school to purchase much needed supplies and equipment.
This year’s luncheon featured guest speaker artist and art therapist Tova Speter, who worked with Dearborn students to create the Arlington community mural located at the Arlington Heights Bus Depot. Tova talked about the natural therapeutic elements in artistic endeavors like mural painting and the empowering process of seeing one’s ideas take form in sketches before being transformed into a finished product like the mural. "This process help students’ learn they have something to give to the whole project that is unique to themselves, a powerful lesson in self-esteem," stated Tova.
Parent speaker, Tammy Semeraro, so overcome by emotion when telling her son's story, had Nanci Brody, a former Dearborn student and teacher, relate Tammy's experience to the audience. Tammy’s son Johnny had come to Dearborn Academy through the STEP program. His struggles with severe anxiety had made it impossible to function in school. Ms. Semeraro made a point of thanking the Burlington Public Schools for their foresight and courage in recommending Dearborn to them. After attending Dearborn Academy for one year, Johnny returned to the Burlington Public Schools and is now a successful middle school student.
Former student Jessica talked about her transformation at Dearborn Academy. She shared her emotional story, beginning with her father’s death when she was just in the fourth grade. Unable to fully cope with his death, Jessica found herself in an emotional spiral that became unmanageable and led to her school expulsion in ninth grade. When Jessica came to Dearborn Academy, she began to learn how to cope with her feelings, and was soon moving her way to becoming an honor student. Jessica graduated top of her class and is now attending college, studying to be an Accountant.
In ending Tova stated, “I encourage you, the audience, to look at kids in the same manner that I encourage my students to look at a wall before they begin the mural process – do not accept what you see, but look at the potential.”