Newly-formed Friends of Mifflin group sets sights on arts funding and tutoring partnerships

It’s been a busy summer for the Friends of Mifflin School Committee of the East Falls Community Council.

Unanimously approved by civic membership in mid-June, the volunteer-based group has partnered with the public elementary school with hopes of bolstering its reputation as a viable school option for local families.

The nascent committee has yet to formally introduce itself to the school’s community, but a core group met and emailed one another over the summer. And already, there are a number of irons in the fire.

“They’re working hard,” said Mifflin’s Principal Leslie Mason. “They’re going to be a really good resource.”

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Much of the group’s early efforts have been aimed at bringing music programming to the school. As part of a severely cash-strapped school district, Mifflin only offers instrumental lessons once a week to students in third through eighth grade.

Applying for funds

The committee – comprised of parents, residents and Mifflin staffers – has applied for three grants that will provide more musical experiences for students at the pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade school.

The group has been awarded a $3,500 grant through the Public Citizens for Children and Youth. Tom Sauerman, president of EFCC, said the Picasso Project funding will be used to create musical performances for fifth and sixth graders.

The committee has also applied for two state grants – each worth around the same amount, according to Sauerman.

The first, for K-2 grade students, is for international music and dancing programming.

The other, for third and fourth graders, would bring the Children’s Opera Box to the school for a joint performance of Hansel and Gretel. Opera Box staffers would take on the opera’s lead roles, while students would participate as part of the chorus.

“We’re waiting on the other two,” said Sauerman.

In addition, the committee is exploring partnerships with local college students to provide after-school tutoring and mentoring. A rock-climbing program is also being considered.

Need for parent involvement 

George Matysik, one of the committee’s co-chairs, said the group will gain more steam once the school year gets underway.

Parent involvement, he noted, will be key to making Mifflin a major incentive for other young families to move to East Falls.

“If I am still heading this up a year from now than I have failed,” said Matysik, who does not have a student at Mifflin. “I need parents to get involved to work side by side with the Friends of Mifflin Committee. We’ve gotten great interest from parents so far.”

“The school is already doing many great things and so it’s also just creating general awareness,” he added.

A launch event for the committee is planned for the fall. The first day of school is Sept. 7.

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