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2023 Recap: Celebrating Growth

Dear NECS Community,

As we bid farewell to 2023, it is time to reflect on our journey together—a year of challenges conquered, achievements celebrated, and growth embraced.

This annual recap summarizes the essence of our collective journey, highlighting milestones, lessons learned, and the shared spirit that defines us:

Theatrical Triumphs: We kicked off the year with a sold-out performance of Cyrano de Burgershacki in February, setting the stage for a year of artistic excellence.

Educational Partnerships: Our collaboration with Peekskill City School District expanded. We now provide afterschool programs at elementary and Peekskill middle schools, and we offer afterschool programs in the community.

Film Festival Success: NECS student film “We Are Democracy” made it into the Peekskill Film Festival, showcasing our commitment to uplifting youth voices.

Podcast Launch: My Activist Life, our student-initiated podcast, hit the airwaves, breaking down barriers and inspiring activism, all accompanied by an original theme song by our artist-in-residence.

Lehrer Prize Recognition: NECS received the prestigious Lehrer Prize for our dedication to the social and emotional well-being of children in our community. Our Executive Director, Ridvan Idara, was interviewed on the radio show on June 15.

Summer Adventures: Nature Connection Camp welcomed over 30 enthusiastic students for six weeks of outdoor exploration, thanks to the support of our generous partners.

Alabama Cultural Immersion: Our journey to Alabama with eleven high school students from Westchester County was a deep dive into US history, fostering meaningful conversations and reflection on racial issues.

Pine Ridge Exchange: NECS students embarked on a robust cultural immersion trip at Pine Ridge Reservation, creating lasting connections and gaining insights into the Native American experience.

10th Anniversary Celebration: On September 10, we gathered at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theatre in Peekskill to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Senator Harkham, Mayor Vivian Mckenzie, parents, students, community partners, friends, and supporters graced us with their presence. It featured a spectacular art show displaying student work, musical performances, poetry readings, skits, a live band, and a heartfelt call to action for our community to continue supporting NECS.

Voices of NECS Blog Series: In the fall, we launched a blog series sharing the diverse stories of our team members and their commitment to creating a better world through artistic expression.

Professional Development: NECS demonstrated a commitment to professional development this year, offering our teaching artists the opportunity to cultivate a nurturing, equitable, and imaginative environment for our students.

Looking Ahead to 2024

Despite the lack of a dedicated space, we’ve thrived and expanded our programs. Your support has been invaluable, and as we grow and consolidate in 2024, we hope you will continue this journey with us.

Thank you for being an essential part of the NECS family and vision. We look forward to another year of inspiration, creativity, and a positive impact on our children’s lives.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Ridvan Idara

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