ROXBOROUGH >> The Stained Glass Project, an after-school arts program for Philadelphia high school students, entered its 12th year this fall at the Kendrick Recreation Center in Roxborough.
The program was started by Joan Myerson-Shrager and Paula Mandel in 2005 at the United Methodist Church of Bethlehem. At the time, an after-school program was already being run in the church, and Myerson-Shrager and Mandel were asked to introduce an art program with a focus on stained glass to the mix.
At its start, the Stained Glass Project was open only to students at Germantown High School. However, the program made its new home at the Kendrick Recreation Center in Roxborough in 2013.
After the move to Roxborough, Myerson-Shrager and Mandel decided to open the program to all high school students in the Philadelphia area. This year, the program’s 12 students come from Roxborough and Parkway Northwest high schools, but Myerson-Shrager explained that students from any Philadelphia-based high school are welcome.
Myerson-Shrager explained that beyond introducing local students to the arts, the Stained Glass Project hopes to bring the community together with others throughout the country and the world.
“We are consistently loving our students,” she said. “After 12 years, we are still very close and friendly with alumni [of the program].”
She explained that in addition to the students who attend each week, she and Mandel also notice former students visiting on their breaks home from college.
After completing a project, students at the Stained Glass Project donate their finished windows to schools and churches throughout the world. In the past, windows created by the group have been sent to South Africa, New Orleans and Texas. This year, they’re planning to donate them to a school in Uganda.
“We do for each other, and we do for others,” Myerson-Shrager said.
Students meet at the Kendrick Recreation Center every Wednesday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Each year, the group decides together on an overarching theme for their work each week. This year, Myerson-Shrager said, they’ve chosen “immigration” to influence their projects.
The theme is one that works well with one of the program’s goals, which is to learn about other people in their community.
“It’s always been wonderful that it’s a real mix,” said Myerson-Shrager, talking not only about the students and teachers who meet each Wednesday but about the churches and schools throughout the world to which they donate their completed windows. “It’s an opportunity for many of us to learn about other people.”
While the after-school program focuses primarily on art-making, Myerson-Shrager explained that they often take trips to local restaurants, museums and the theater as well. Ultimately, the Stained Glass Project hopes to teach students about art and the world around them in a way they’ll be able to take with them after graduation.
Because the Stained-Glass Project is a nonprofit after-school program, Myerson-Shrager said, they’re always accepting donations through the official sponsor, The Painted Bride. Donations for the program can be addressed to The Painted Bride and earmarked for the Stained Glass Project. The mailing address, whether for donations or to visit during the group’s next meeting, is the Kendrick Recreation Center, 5800 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia PA 19128.