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Bronx teacher helms school’s first-ever art program

Bronx Times

Math and science may be the hallmarks of this Bronx high school, but art is making a splash on its campus.

And it’s all thanks to Larry Minetti, a Bronx-bred art teacher who’s turned the humanities course into a must-have class at the Collegiate Institute of Math and Science. CIMS is housed at Christopher Columbus High School, now being phased out by the city Education Department. The Pelham Parkway school did away with art programs, seen as an overall burden to a city agency still in budget-cutting mode.

“The fact that some schools do not offer art is incredibly bothersome,” said Minetti, who not only served as the high school’s 17-year teacher but also graduated from the school.

“I legitimately grew up 450 feet from where I’m working,” said Minetti. “Now I’m 41-years-old and I haven’t left this area.”

CIMS started moving against the downtrend after principal Shadia Alvarez tapped Minetti to pioneer the program based on student demand.

“We had a vision already,” said Alvarez. “But what made that vision actually move was the student voice.”

Minetti, anxious he would be transferred out of the building, was soon relieved Alvarez offered him a post at CIMS.

“I heard a lot of great things about him,” said Alvarez, believing art to be a critical ingredient to a well-rounded education.

Working on a shoestring budget, donations and other sources, Minetti was able to work with what he had. The challenge has certainly reinvigorated Minetti, whose enthusiasm for the craft is apparent inside and outside the classroom.

“I do feel sparked by this change,” he said. “I feel reborn.”

Since becoming CIMS’s only art teacher into the program, Minetti has hit the ground running, campaigning to bring art to the forefront of the school, organizing an art club where over a dozen students painted the 15th school mural - the CIMS mascot wolf howling over a moonlit evening.

“Kids love art and when you get the opportunity to paint on a wall it’s symbolic to something that’s out of the ordinary,” said Minetti, drawing comparisons to graffiti tagging. “In this case it was legal.”

He’s even taken his students’ works on the road with the help of Sen. Jeff Klein, who organized an art gallery at the Hutch Metro Center back in December.

“We had no idea it was going to be successful as it was,” said Minetti.

With the school year three months shy of ending, Minetti is looking forward to the 2013-14 semester when a sequence of Advanced Placement courses will be introduced.

“Offering AP classes is a phenomenal especially in a school that’s not art-based such as CIMS,” he said.

Reach David Cruz at dcruz@cnglocal.com or on Twitter at @CWEBCRUZER.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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