PATERSON, NJ - The first modern submarine, the engine for the Spirit of St. Louis and the first African-American to hit a home run in World Series history have one thing in common – Paterson, New Jersey. The achievements of John P. Holland, Wright Aeronautics and Larry Doby were celebrated last week as part of the “City of Firsts” event at the Smith Building on Market Street.
The event highlighted the works of the Teen Arts Program, an afterschool program funded through the Herbert Van Denend Educational Foundation in partnership with the Ivanhoe Artists Mosaic.
“The Teen Arts Program gives the students an opportunity to nurture their artistic skills while developing a true sense of pride in their community,” said Christine Conforti, Executive Director of the Ivanhoe Artists Mosaic.
The evening featured the music of the New Roberto Clemente (NRC) School Band where five out of the six members added to the “City of Firsts” theme due to their status as first time musicians.
“This band comes out at 7:15 a.m. every day to practice. They only started this past October,” said Nathan Webb, a music teacher at New Roberto Clemente. “The Ivanhoe has always been great with giving us opportunities to showcase to the community, this is just the beginning.”
In addition to the performance of the NRC Band, students also read poetry from the “Patersonian Legacy,” a poem that the city commissioned Conforti to produce for the city’s bi-centennial in 1992.
With the Smith Building being steps from City Hall, Mayor Jeffery Jones could not resist the evening’s events. As he listened to the poetry and music he recalled poetry that reminded him of warm childhood memories in the city he now leads.
The poetry that he spoke fondly of had a strong message of hope.
“I hope that the art you see here, the art you created, continues to encourage you,” said Jones. “Encouraging each other is important too. Cell phones have an app for everything, but they don’t have an app for being a friend.”