Interview with Arthur 8th Grader Aaliyah Barrett

1) Do you participate in any after-school activities at Arthur?

This is my third year participating in the Delphi dance program and I just love it. We learn different styles of dance, like ballet, jazz, and Latin. Latin is my favorite — the music is alive! I hear a lot of Latin music at home but I didn’t know how to groove to it until now. 
One of the best things about the program is that they encourage us to try new things and the teachers incorporate moves into the choreography that we create. I like how they look to us, the students, for ideas. Last year, they asked students to submit artwork and they picked my theme “Dance like no one is watching” to put on the shirts that students across Philly received.
Now that I’m an 8th grader, I’m a captain. It’s taught me a lot about leadership and teamwork. Even if I’m having a bad day, I know that my mood can impact other people. We’re a team, so it’s important that we bring each other up. At the end of the year, we get to perform at the Prince Theatre and it's a really big deal. I used to have stage fright but now I’m used to it and I try to help reassure the newer kids when we get there.
Originally, I was really nervous about doing dance, because I had never done something like that, but Ms. Brigaman encouraged me to try it. She always reminds me, “You only have one life, try to get the most out of it.”

2) What is your favorite subject?
I love art. Just yesterday, I got to try out these new prismacolor markers after school. I like to compare and contrast different art materials and these markers really make the colors pop. I was inspired by the purples, so I drew a girl with bright, flowing purple hair.  
Our art teacher, Ms. Lindo, challenges me to learn new materials and techniques. One really hard art project was drawing a still-life using oil pastels. They are thicker than paint and when you mix colors, it doesn’t always come out the way you think it’s going to. I had to calm myself and try different ways to get the colors I wanted. Right now we are doing what’s called a visual note, where you listen to music, draw what you see and feel, and then write about it. We listened to three different types of music and I had so much going through my brain, it took me awhile to clear my thoughts and identify the image in my head. 
Recently, my mom and I met with Ms. Brigaman to talk about what high schools I should apply to. She helped us identify schools that will let me pursue art like CAPA, Philadelphia’s School of Creative and Performing Arts. My dream is to be a professional artist someday, so I want to keep working at it and meet other artists.

3) Tell me about some of your teachers this year.
Mr. Davis is our social studies teacher. He expects a lot from us and really prepares us for high school. Because he expects us to do the very best we can, he ends up teaching us life lessons: to be responsible, to be organized, to work hard. It’s real-world learning. 
I love all of Mr. Franklin’s classes. Math is easier for me. Right now, we are learning about graphing on the x- and y-axis. I actually like science more because it’s a challenge for me. I’m always going home and telling my mom some cool new thing that I learned. Recently, we did a mini experiment putting water and oil together and put dye in and left it there over the weekend to see what would happen. I like how we get a choice of what kind of project to do. For example, if we are learning about cells and molecules, we might get to write a comic book or create a board game using the knowledge we learned. 

4) What advice would you give to a new Arthur student?
Just be you. A lot of places people won’t accept you for who you are, but here at Arthur, we want diverse people with different mindsets. That’s how you learn. People can see you shine if you just feel comfortable being yourself.

5) What is different or special about Arthur?
Well, one thing is that it’s so high-tech. We have a 3D printer, laptops, promethium boards, and lots of computer programs like Mathia and Rosetta Stone. I think in the future there is going to be more and more technology so by learning it in elementary school, it will be easier for us as we get older.

As an artist, to me, Arthur is colorful. That’s how I think of it and that’s how it makes me feel. It’s never dark inside, even if it’s raining or gloomy outside. I think that’s because everyone is accepting and no one judges you.  It’s hard for me and my friends to imagine being at a different school next year. I can’t wait to come back and visit!