BY JAMES FARRELL
Students at PS/MS 200 the Pomonok School in Flushing embarked on their own magical mystery tour on Monday, courtesy of the John Lennon Education Tour Bus.
The Tour Bus is a mobile recording studio that provides opportunities for students to learn how to write, record and produce original music. It’s also a nonprofit that aims to educate students on careers in music and digital media, while fostering an interest in the arts.
At this year’s event, seven middle school students were selected through an essay-writing competition. The students then spend the day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., inside the bus, learning how to write, produce and record a song of their own making. Additionally, the students produce their own music video.
Just after 9 a.m., the students—Noah Cubi, Lissette Gonzalez, Mathew Afzali, Sophie Lin, Tata Coulibaly, Isabel Tiburcio and Elizabeth Segarra—were on the bus sharing their favorite songs with the John Lennon Tour Bus staff. They listened to songs from Pink Floyd, Taylor Swift and more as they prepared for their day as music producers.
The Pomonok stop is the latest in the John Lennon Tour Bus’ fourth annual month-long New York City residency known as “Come Together: NYC.”
The stop is particularly meaningful to the Pomonok School since the school recently became the Magnet School for Global Studies and Leadership, according to Principal Kevin McAuliffe.
“That is very much the focus of and the message behind John Lennon and also behind his bus too, and the goal is to spread that message of peace and multiculturalism,” he said. “It really aligns perfectly with our goals as a magnet school.”
This is the third year that the bus has come to Pomonok. Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) has allotted funding for the tour bus through the New York City Council’s Cultural Immigrant Initiative. McAuliffe is a big Beatles fan, and called the three-year partnership with Lancman and the Tour Bus a “lucky coincidence.”
“I brought [Lancman] into my office and showed him that I had John Lennon paraphernalia surrounding all the walls,” he said.
Programs like the John Lennon Tour Bus are important, Lancman explained, because they help foster interest in the arts.
“Arts have been cut back in the city dramatically over the last many years and we have to be creative about how we expose kids to the arts,” he said. “I think it’s important that our kids from our neighborhood feel special and get an opportunity to use the very best equipment with the very best artists and know that they’re really important to us and that they can be whatever they want to be.”
Prior to the children boarding the bus, the student body joined Lancman to form a human peace sign for a big group picture.
“That’s important, too,” Lancman said. “John Lennon stood for something—for peace and for equality, a symbol for justice.”
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.