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The Department of the Arts


Office of the Department of the Arts and Community Relations

Lynn Fusco, Director of Arts and Community Relations

Sonia Brown, Secretary Office of the Arts and Community Relations



Freeport Named Best Community for Music Education

Once again, Freeport Public Schools has been recognized with the Best Communities for Music Education Award from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation. This recognition honors the music educators, administrators, students and parents who demonstrate outstanding achievement and commitment to providing access to music education and to instilling an appreciation of music as part of the district’s philosophy of offering a well-rounded education.

“Freeport Public Schools is honored to be named as one of the Best Communities for Music Education once again,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham. “In the time of a global pandemic, this recognition is a testament of our District’s commitment to music education and our dedicated music educators who have continued to inspire our amazing and talented students to continue learning and sharing music within our district.”

Music education is a critical educational element for the students within Freeport Public Schools. The fine arts education department aims to provide the most impactful educational opportunities possible for students in order to enable them to harness their musical talents and also increase their development through creative problem-solving and critical thinking both known benefits, among many others, of a music education.

“The music program at Freeport has always worked to spread happiness and joy to our entire community, especially during the past year when we had to adapt to meet health and safety guidelines,” said Ruth Breidenbach, Director of Arts and Community Relations. “We are proud of this recognition and to have maintained our music education program for our students."

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit organization supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants. It advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs.


International Day of Non-Violence and The 151st Anniversary of the Birth of Mahatma Gandhi

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 NYS Learning Standards for the Arts




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Extra! Extra! Freeport High School’s Newsies Wows Audiences

Freeport High School’s Drama Club proudly reclaimed the stage after two years with a stunning performance of Disney’s Newsies. Before packed audiences, the talented student-actors took to the stage to tell the tale of the 1899 New York Newsboys strike.

Staying true to the classic Disney film and hit Broadway musical, the show included vibrant dance numbers and standout songs including “The World Will Know,” “King of New York,” and “Once and for All.”

“We are so pleased to have our students performing live in our beautiful Performing Arts Center and amazing audiences with their talented performances,” said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Kishore Kuncham. “Sharing memorable, live performances with our community is absolutely phenomenal.”

Under the direction of Freeport alumnus, Joseph Anthony Smith the performance featured high school students Victor Villatoro, as Jack Kelly, Emilie Goez as Katherine Plumber, Antonio Cruz and Crutchie, Dillon DeBourg as Davey Jacobs, Jasmine LaRocca as Les Jacobs, Brianne Belizaire as Medda Larkin, Myles Hollingsworth as Joseph Pulitzer and Ashely Retzlaff as Race.

From a set that brought the realism of the streets of old New York City to life, to the cast and crew who delivered a riveting performance that showcased the excellence of the Freeport Public Schools arts department, every member of the audience left the high school’s Performing Arts Center feeling as if they could “Seize the Day.”

Date Added: 4/8/2022

Spring Festival of the Arts Virtual Gallery

Freeport Public Schools is proud to showcase the beautiful artwork from students representing all eight school buildings in the virtual Freeport Spring Festival of the Arts. The Spring Festival of the Arts is the second collective art gallery for the 2020-2021 school year featuring student artwork from all grades and representing all levels of creativity and skillset. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Freeport Department of the Arts would host the annual Spring Festival of the Arts to exhibit the artistic talents of students in each school for the community to enjoy.

The district would like to thank the Freeport Department of the Arts for this beautiful display of student artwork. View the Spring Arts Festival here.

Freeport’s Giblyn, New Visions, Atkinson and Dodd Schools are excited to share the end of year highlights from the music and arts departments.

Leo F. Giblyn:
Instrumental Music Highlights

New Visions:
Art Gallery
Instrumental Music Highlights

Atkinson Intermediate School:
Orchestra Highlights
Band Highlights

Dodd Middle School:
Virtual Chorus Performance
Virtual Orchestra Performance
Virtual Band Performance

Freeport High School Spring Instrumental Concert

Freeport High School is proud to present the virtual instrumental spring concert demonstrating the dedication, talent and resilience of the student musicians of Freeport during the 2020-2021 school year. This beautifully arranged virtual concert features the Symphonic Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble with remote students and students who attended school and practices in-person.

The virtual concert is a clear demonstration of the level commitment Freeport Schools has for its music programs and the passion the students have for creating beautiful music no matter the circumstances.

View the full concert here

To view the individual concerts of Freeport’s musical ensembles please visit the links below:

Symphonic Orchestra
Wind Ensemble
Concert Band
Jazz Ensemble

Freeport Schools staff participate in Equity Challenge

Freeport Schools staff members recently participated in the voluntary 21-Day Equity Challenge to develop a deeper understanding of how inequity and systemic racism play a role in society, as well as its devastating and far-reaching implications.

The challenge, which has now concluded, consisted of 21 daily emails highlighting a range of diversity topics including understanding racism, Black lives matter, workplace culture, allyship, understanding bias, early childhood education and many more. Each topic was accompanied by a call to action such as watching a video or listening to a podcast, to help launch a lifelong commitment to improving equity and inclusion.

“The 21-day Equity Challenge is an eye-opening program that gives all participants the opportunity to learn together and heighten their understanding of and acknowledge biases,” said Dr. Kishore Kuncham, Superintendent of Schools. “Freeport is dedicated to learning and taking action to create an equitable community for all, and the Equity Challenge was another way for those involved to “Be the Change” and transform their thoughts and actions.”

The daily challenge emails were distributed to 220 participants within the district including Freeport Board of Education members, administrators, teachers, clerical, nurses, teaching assistants, custodians, and security.

“The 21-Day equity challenge raised awareness and inspired conversations about difficult topics,” said Director of Arts and Community Relations, Ruth Breidenbach. “We worked hard to make the challenge happen in order to help transform the way we live our lives and continue on the quest for racial equity.”

“This amazing challenge has made me and my family more considerate of others. We are now even more committed to advancing equity, love, and peace in our community,” said one participant after completing the challenge.

The 21-Day Equity Challenge was created by Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. (#BlackMind) and co-developed with Debby Irving, and Dr. Marguerite Penick (#DiverseSolutions). The plan has been adopted by organizations, associations and corporations across the nation/world.

FPS Equity challenge logo

March highlights the Fine Arts District celebrates Music in our Schools and Youth Art Month

Freeport Public Schools celebrated the fine arts in all eight school buildings during Music in Our Schools Month and Youth Art Month. With hallways and classrooms lined with student artwork on a regular basis and music lessons being given virtually and in-person, the arts education program within Freeport Public Schools is alive and providing students an opportunity to realize their artistic and musical talents.

“Throughout the past year there have been many challenges, but one thing that kept our students and fine arts educators moving forward was that music and the arts continue in our schools and we still have the opportunity to share them with our community,” said Dr. Kishore Kuncham, Superintendent of Schools. “Music in our Schools and Youth Art Month offers a look into our music and arts programs which, while adapted to meet health and safety guidelines, allowed students to remain engaged and involved.”

Districtwide students and teachers celebrated music in the schools after the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way music classes and lessons are taught. Students in the elementary general music classes are continuing to learn the foundations of music, which bring enjoyment to the classroom and can help enrich and benefits students’ lives and education through emotional development, creative thinking, language development, team building and many more.

At Atkinson Intermediate School, music teacher Stephanie Arnell, utilized a digital platform called TeachRock to educate remote and in-person students on a variety of musical topics, most recently teaching a lesson about the electric guitar, which focused on identifying different shapes, colors and sounds. Fifth graders even had a special guest during their electric guitar lesson, E-Street Band guitarist and TeachRock founder, Steven Van Zandt, who expressed his love for music and the arts and its importance to education.

Students from Bayview participated in the Quaver Music Program’s Music Madness, a play on March Madness, in which students signed onto the platform daily to listen to a variety of different types of music choosing their favorites for the day, ultimately choosing a winner. The month-long music listening event promoted musical analysis, thinking and responding skills and the social-emotional component of listening to music.

The elementary, intermediate and middle school orchestra and band ensembles are practicing with small group instruction and social distancing protocols are in place to ensure students and staff are safe, but still enjoying their music lessons.

The high school after-school music program kicked-off and is bringing music back into the Performing Arts Center with the Jazz Band, ninth grade Select Chorale, Chamber Orchestra and the Freeport High School Select Chorale able to practice safely.

“Music in Our Schools and Youth Art Month is a time for us to highlight the work that has been done and to show our community that our students and educators have adapted and shifted their abilities in order to continue to learn and make beautiful music and visual art,” said Ruth Breidenbach, Director of Arts and Community Relations. “We are proud of the work we have done since the onset of COVID-19 and want our community to be aware of the opportunities our students have had to experience music and the arts on every grade level in a variety of mediums.”

For Youth Art Month, students worked on a variety of visual art projects in and outside the classroom. Eight advanced art students from Freeport High School are virtually attending pre-college art courses on the weekends with the Academy of Art University, Adelphi University, and NYU Visionary Studios providing students with expanded opportunities to participate in creative art learning.

On the elementary level, students from New Visions studied artist Andy Warhol and created their very own product design artwork based on the ideas of the Pop Art movement. Archer Street kindergarten students completed a lesson based on the book “The Rainbow Fish” and each created their own rainbow fish teaching the elements of design and reinforcing color identification.

The Art Supervisor’s Association 2021 Virtual Gallery, which will be publicly showcased for viewing through April and May, will feature the artwork of 45 Freeport Public Schools students ranging from grades K-12. Each year, thousands of students who participate in classroom art projects across Nassau County are nominated to be featured in this All-County Art Exhibit.

Music in our Schools and Youth Art Month is celebrated every March and helps to raise awareness of the importance of music and arts education for children within Freeport Public Schools. The fine arts education department aims to provide the most impactful educational opportunities possible for students within the district in order to help them harness their creative talents, but also to help increase their development through creative problem-solving and critical thinking both known benefits, among many others, of a music and arts education.

45 Students Honored by Art Supervisors Association

45 Freeport Public School students from kindergarten to 12th grade have been chosen to represent the district in the 2021 Art Supervisors Association All-County Virtual Exhibit. In addition, Freeport High School senior, Raymonii Cowan was chosen as one of 42 students from Nassau County to receive the Senior Scholarship award.

The online exhibit, which would normally be held at Farmingdale State College, features the artwork of each of the students in an impressive gallery that allows visitors to virtually walk through and view each piece.

The district congratulates Raymonii Cowan for receiving the senior scholar award and the remaining 44 Freeport students who were selected to participate in the prestigious exhibition.

The Art Supervisors Association (ASA) is a non-profit advocacy group for education in the Visual Arts representing the Nassau County area. ASA is active in the promotion of quality art instruction at all educational levels and provides a forum for ideas relating to art.

To view the Art Supervisors Association 2021 All-County Virtual Exhibit, visit

To view senior Raymonii Cowan’s senior scholar award piece visit:

It’s More Than Just Rock And Roll

Steven Van Zandt joins Freeport’s Atkinson School music lesson; talks about the importance of music and more

Mr. Steven Van Zandt, rock and roll guitarist, music education advocate and founder of the TeachRock Foundation, joined a virtual music lesson with the fifth-grade students in Ms. Lauren Chmiri’s class at Freeport’s Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School.

Led by Ms. Stephanie Arnell, the culminating virtual music lesson was based on the book “Grace’s Rock and Roll Adventure.” Prior to joining in a candid question and answer session with the famous rock and roll star, students participated in a virtual escape room to find Little Steven’s missing guitar components and identify electric guitar shapes and features. Once all the components were found, the students described what it would feel like to perform on stage with their own guitar and a famous rock star. Then, they shared electric guitar designs they created and what inspired their designs with Mr. Van Zandt. Students explained that their guitars were inspired by musical genres, their favorite colors and musical artists; some of which included Van Zandt.

Opening up the classroom, students asked Mr. Van Zandt questions which engaged the students and provided insight into the famous musician’s career, life as a civil rights activist and music education advocate.

The first student, Jadyn-Chanel Smith asked, “What inspired you to become a musician and play the guitar?” Mr. Van Zandt explained how The Beatles inspired him, “I saw the Beatles on television and was attracted to the idea of a group of people coming together to make music. At the time there were a lot of individual musicians, but the idea of a group of people and a friendship, just like a soccer team or a baseball team, coming together is what really inspired me.”

With a successful career as a musician, Steven Van Zandt utilized his notoriety for change. Student Sean Webster thoughtfully asked about his work in South Africa during Apartheid, after a recent English language arts module on human rights. “What did you see wrong in your eyes that you had to protest on South Africa?” Mr. Van Zandt attentively responded, “At the time, in South Africa, it was a bad system where…the Black people were not allowed to vote. We joined together with other artists to bring attention to the world, and we were able to change it. Nelson Mandela, a famous world leader, we helped get him out of jail and he became president of South Africa and because of that, Black people can vote there. It was very important work. And it is important to always work for and fight for what is right in the world.”

Addressing Mr. Van Zandt, superintendent of schools, Mr. Kishore Kuncham said

“Thank you for the work you are doing and have done across the globe. We are truly honored to have you here with us. More than ever, the world today really needs tremendous people in terms of addressing culturally responsive education and promoting social justice. You have been a pioneer in doing and promoting that through partnering with schools and using such a very powerful weapon and instrument to do so, which is music.”

Additional questions from students ranged in complexity and topics.

Khalani Dixon asked, “During hard times what motivates you to keep working?” Mr. Van Zandt responded that the importance of working hard at one’s craft, and how doing something one loves will create a positive experience and in turn positive energy to move forward. He reinforced to students that a craft, is not just playing a guitar it can be anything “being a painter, or a writer, a musician, something that fulfills you and satisfies you when things are difficult. And working on that craft will reward you in many different ways.”

Closing the lesson, Mr. Van Zandt thanked the students for their insightful questions and commended them on their musical knowledge. He took the time to remind them of the importance of artistic thinking, “You are very lucky students. Your school system and your teachers are very encouraging of artistic thinking, which is one of the most important kinds of thinking in the world. Artistic thinking is your emotions and feelings. It helps you learn math and science and so many other things that are imperative to your growth as a student and a human being.”

Atkinson’s Collaborative Chorus Project Celebrates Peace and Hispanic Heritage Month

Atkinson School Choral teachers, Ms. Arnell and Ms. Valonzo created a collaborative choral video to celebrate peace and Hispanic Heritage month. Fifth and sixth grade chorus members performed a special arrangement of “I’d like to Teach the World to Sing.” To create the video the chorus students participated in remote instruction and then submitted individual recordings of themselves singing lyrics in English and Spanish. The chorus members also submitted photos demonstrating messages of peace for all. To view the virtual project click the link below.

Preview - Summer 2020 Virtual Arts Program – Jump In

Summer 2020 Virtual Arts Program – Jump In

Saturday Night Live with Alan Zweibel

Whose Line is it Anyway? with Colin and Brad

HBO and WarnerMedia with Guy and Kasia

Freeport takes summer arts program virtual

In previous years, the Freeport School District’s summer arts program has been extremely popular among students and this year is no exception. More than 175 students have enrolled in the district’s virtual summer arts program, where they will participate in several real-time virtual meetings with celebrities, writers and directors, virtual field trips, lessons, and more.

Teachers will be using Google Classroom and Google Meets, along with Flipgrid, Spark, SmartMusic, Sight Reading Factory and Google Draw to implement lessons that align with New York State learning standards for the arts. The learning standards include performing, creating, responding and connecting through music and art. Students have registered for three classes, including their ensemble and two electives in media, visual, dance or theatre arts.

As part of this year’s exciting summer program, students will have an opportunity to participate in a real-time virtual meeting with costume designer Kasia Walicka Malmone, and production supervisor Gus Gustafson, both from HBO. Organized by Tai Chen Bassin of HBO/Warner Media, students will hear firsthand from these professionals about their knowledge of the TV/Film industry and their own personal experiences. 

Through the collaborative efforts between the school district and Lori Jonas of Jonas Public Relations, students will also virtually spend time with Alan Zweibel, writer from Saturday Night Live and author of “Our Tree Named Steve” and celebrities Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood from the popular TV series “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” In addition, students will experience an informative webinar presented by the LI Traveling Red Carpet Motion Picture Museum. 

As a way for students to share their artistic talents, students are being asked to design rocks or seashells with inspiring messages of hope and kindness that will be gathered at the end of the summer program to create a one-of-a-kind Kindness Garden as an inspiration to all. Through the summer program’s social emotional learning curriculum, students can also participate in a mindful movement class which will address the needs of students during this time of global matters. The summer virtual arts theme Jump Right In encourages students to make a big splash in this innovative program with confidence.

The district is excited for these new opportunities students will explore through virtual education.



FHS Students Virtually Meet HBO Production Team

Freeport High School students and Department of Arts teachers participated in an interactive live Google meet session where they had the unique opportunity of meeting members of the production team from the new HBO series “The Gilded Age.”

During the session, they met Robert Shaw (bio), Holly Rymon (bio) and Sally Harvey (bio). These dynamic speakers shared their individual journeys in the TV/Film industry with inspirational themes of hard work, good attitude and developing interpersonal skills. This collaborative project was organized by Tai Chen Bassin and Pam Hacker of HBO/WarnerMedia, Brandon Ray of ATT, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham, and district Director of Arts and Community Relations Ruth Breidenbach.

The district had over 75 students from grades 9-12 and 12 teachers that represent the art, music, audio visual and acting classes participate in the live discussion, which concluded with a question and answer portion. All were engaged in this E-learning platform, with 88 attendees.

Click link to watch full video:

Best Community For Music Education

The district has once again been named Best Community for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation for 2020. 

 The prestigious award program honors the outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of a Freeport education. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education. 

“Our talented, amazing students spread joy and inspiration whenever they perform,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham. “Freeport Public Schools is dedicated to educating the whole child. We are proud to once again receive the designation of Best Community in Music Education. This award recognizes our commitment to supporting a successful music program and the dedication of our staff and students.”

Director of Arts and Community Relations Ruth Breidenbach stated. “Our music team is the most progressive and innovative in the field and creates opportunities for unique experiences,” she continued. “Our student musicians are ambassadors of the district when they perform in our village, county, state, region and nation. We share great pride in this consecutive recognition of being NAMM Best Community in Music Education 2020.”


The Art of Earth Day E-Learning

The district’s elementary visual art teachers introduced an underwater sea life unit for kindergarten to sixth grade students in honor of Earth Day.

The lessons included a virtual trip to the Georgia Aquarium where they observed live webcam footage of various habitats. This e-learning experience demonstrated real life scenarios that helped students learn about the sea and its many creatures. The students were able to create descriptive pictures using crayons, markers and pencils to express their knowledge.

The collaborative video presentation featured student works from Columbus Avenue, Archer Street, Bayview Avenue, Leo F. Giblyn, New Visions and Caroline G. Atkinson schools, under the guidance of Ms. Amanda Rodriguez, Ms. Lisa Scarola, Ms. Laurie Kolodny, Ms. Susan Warren, Ms. Nancy Williams, Ms. Emily Hertzberg, and Ms. Eleanor Barry.