FireFish STEAM Academy

FireFish STEAM Academy teens ruled with their colorful Koi FireFish at the second annual FireFish Festival, held on Saturday, September 17, 2016. With the help of countless community volunteers,  they built and then paraded the fish through bursts of rain through the Festival to the river, led by drummer Baba Jabal and dancer Brittany Drost.  There,  against all odds, the full moon burned through the parting clouds, and the fish ultimately  burned – a symbol of transformation, tenacity and perserverance.

Creators of the FIREFISH FESTIVAL Koi Centerpiece are: FireFish STEAM Academy Apprentices Myesha Arnold, Christian Billings, Briana Boggs, Chakyia Chaney, Jacintaya Cuellar, Aaron McHenry, Shanija Mourer, Mia McNemar, Jos’Lyn Nobel, Allison Otero, Destiny Ramos, Brian Suarez-Herrera, Ryan Williams; Master Builders: Daniel McNamara, Ian Petroni; Koi Fish Artistic Design: John (Sky) Davison; Artistic Development Strategist: Monica D. Idom; STEAM Academy administrative coordinator: Soniqua Morries;  Volunteers: Arthur Schwandt, Jessica Songer.  Additional support for the Festival Parade was provided by teen volunteers  from the PACE Foundation.

The STEAM Academy is a FREE creative arts based training program for income-eligible high school students and young adults in Lorain County located in downtown Lorain.

The 2016 summer eight week intensive arts training program was headed by professional artists/staff Bread and Puppet Theatre veteran Daniel McNamara and poet Monica Idom. In the program, the teen apprentices learned about themselves, work and life responsibilities – by engaging in personal self-expression with artist facilitators Ann Bort,  Sky Davison,  Kym Hammond, Glenn Sufilka and Bruce Weigl as well as with the staff artist/leaders .   Special guest performers from the traveling theatre ensemble Children of the Wild provided workshop and event opportunities as they traveled across the Great Lakes from Buffalo to Minneapolis performing “The Wastelands.”

As part of their work training, these teen arts apprentices were also charged with creating the centerpiece of the festival — the giant FireFish — from start to finish. Design, engineering, and science experiences were intentionally woven into this massive project based learning and workforce development initiative.

The FireFish STEAM Academy is coordinated by Joan Perch, FireFish Community Arts Liaison and Gallery and Operations Coordinator at Lorain County Community College’s Stocker Arts Center under the direction of FireFish Arts/FireFish Festive Executive Director James Levin. The pilot project is an example of FireFish Art’s goal to enhance economic and civic revitalization through visionary arts events, pioneering arts programming, youth education and workforce development initiatives. The Academy is operated in collaboration with the Boys and Girl Club, Save Our Children (Elyria) and the Ohio Means Jobs Youth Lorain County Youth Employment program, in partnership with the Lorain County Community Action Agency, the Lorain Arts Council and the BRIAR (Black River Innovative Artists Residence). Teens from the PACE Academy assisted the STEAM Academy teens in the parading of the FireFish through the Festival to the water.

THE FIREFISH STEAM ACADEMY IS SPONSORED BY THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL, THE NORDSON CORPORATION FOUNDATION, LORAIN COUNTY COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCY, and THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF LORAIN COUNTY.

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