An unlikely gathering of luminaries from the worlds of professional basketball, jewelry design and the media in an improbable location was cause for much celebration at Roger Williams Middle School on the afternoon of March 24.
Boston Celtics Forward Brandon Bass, Team President Rich Gotham, Legend Dana Barros, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and ALEX AND ANI | CHARITY BY DESIGN Vice President Nicki Maher gathered in a former basement music room with honor students of the Roger Williams Middle School to unveil a brand new media arts room. It was the first such collaboration between the two philanthropies, the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation (BCSF) and Alex and Ani’s Charity by Design.
Also on hand were the Celtics mascot, Lucky the Leprechaun, who performed a back flip on the room’s new floor and then caught his hat in mid-air, members of the Celtics dance team, city and school officials and Alex and Ani employees.
The Celtics and ALEX AND ANI purchased six new iMacs, an 80-inch television and supplementary mount as well as an Apple TV for the room, a wall-sized whiteboard, Canon digital cameras with bags and tripods, a green-screen backdrop, studio lighting, pottery wheel, art tables and laser printers.
Additionally, the Celtics and ALEX AND ANI have completely refurbished the room’s flooring. A team of designers met with students, who defined what Providence meant to them. Those words – including diverse, different and free – were painted on the bright walls of the room.
The Media Arts room will be available for the Roger Williams Middle School students and its teachers during and after school.
To kick off the celebration and the unveiling of the many new expressive art tools now available to students, ALEX AND ANI | CHARITY BY DESIGN teamed up with partner, PeaceLove Foundation, to give students an opportunity to take part in two projects in the new art room. The two activities focused around still photography and expressive 2D art. The ALEX AND ANI production team hosted the photography session, where they taught students how to shoot stills using models and offered them the opportunity to learn various editing techniques on their new computers. PeaceLove hosted the expressive 2D art session, where students, joined by Mayor Elorza, designed their own ALEX AND ANI charm through mandala symbolism.
“It was so great to see how excited the kids were to get this new media arts room and to have us here to celebrate with them,” Boston Celtics Forward Brandon Bass said. “We stressed the importance of education and how hard work can help you accomplish anything!”
If he was tired from the Celtics win the night before against the Brooklyn Nets, Bass didn’t show it as he mingled with students while they learned to use the new cameras, posed for photos, and answered questions from the media.
The renovation developed following a meeting between the Mayor and Alex and Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian, who has expressed her desire to support Rhode Island institutions, including the state’s public schools.
“The new media arts room at Roger Williams Middle School is a world-class facility that will help foster creative expression and prepare our students for the jobs of the future,” said Mayor Elorza. “I thank the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation and Alex and Ani for their generous investment in our public schools. Creativity is ingrained in the fabric of our community and investments like this will ensure that Providence remains a leader in the arts for years to come.
Students also came up with words to describe qualities that would help them to be successful – prompt, prepared, productive, polite and persistent – which were also painted on the wall.
Supt. Dr. Susan Lusi, who was travelling and could not be present for the event, expressed her gratitude to both foundations through recorded remarks and added a few p’s of her own – pride, potential and promise.
“We want to help kids have opportunities in life,” said Celtics President Gotham, a Providence College alumnus. “This is a place for you to have an opportunity to go after your dreams. This is a place to come to every day and feel good about your school.”
“We are thrilled to be a part of this vital enhancement of Roger Williams Middle School and their art department,” said Vice President of ALEX AND ANI | CHARITY BY DESIGN Nicki Maher. “This makes great sense for Alex and Ani since we come from such a world of creativity.
“The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation has been such an asset in our community, as we are honored to be a part of projects such as this one, where we can truly see donations at work. We look forward to future collaborations with BCSF and the many children who will be positively impacted,” Maher added.
Dana Barros, considered one of the greatest shooters in Boston Celtics history, encouraged students to find their passion and “find a way to be good at it. If you’re passionate about it, you’ll want to get up every day and do it.”
The event concluded with larger assembly in the gym, where the special guests spoke to about 200 selected students about overcoming obstacles, goal setting and finding their passion.
Since the launch of the Celtic Knot bangle in March of 2013 with ALEX AND ANI’s Charity by Design team, the funding generated through sales has assisted the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation in reaching their mission of supporting youth in need throughout New England. Collaboratively, both organizations decided to use some of this funding to showcase their partnership through art studio renovation projects.