PS/MS 105 eighth grader Karina Restl helped write a hip-hop song with her classmates called “I Won’t Let ‘Em.” 

She said it was a response to other students who didn’t think she could write and perform a hip hop song and frowned upon the concept.

What You Need To Know

  • Thrive Collective brings art, sports and mentoring to public schools around the five boroughs and beyond

  • It connects artists, youth workers and volunteers with local schools as teaching artists

  • Thrive Collective has worked in 200 schools — 80 schools in the spring 2023 semester

  • Thrive originated on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1996 as a youth center in the city’s public housing

“They were trying to bash me for trying to make this, trying to contribute, trying to make this good, and that was the best part,” said Restl.

The eighth graders at the public school in Edgemere in the Rockaways are participating in R.H.Y.M.E.

It’s an acronym for Rhymes Help Young Minds Excel, a program from Thrive Collective, which has been bringing arts, music and mentoring to city public school students for more than 15 years.

“We embed artists as teaching artists, who facilitate project based learning in schools, so our goal is to help eradicate artless education,” said Jeremy Del Rio, co-founder and executive director of Thrive Collective.

Thrive Collective came to the school three years ago, beginning with a mural project and the last two years the R.H.Y.H.M.E. hip-hop production experience with teaching artists Lawrence and Paul Coles.

Students will release a video and compilation album of nine original songs.

“We can connect the dots between mic skills and life skills because there are a lot of transferable principles that kids can glean from the process of writing songs like communication, collaboration, the literary component, reading and writing,” said Randy Mason, New York director for Thrive.

Longtime school principal Laurie Shapiro is a believer in the program and that arts in schools is a big plus for all students.  

“It’s very, very important to build up their self esteem and let them know there is something more than just the academics,” said Shapiro.

The students say the program has brought out a side of them that usually doesn’t come to the surface, discovering more about themselves and their classmates.

“We started showing teamwork and started helping each other get better with what we were saying and with our words, we were just helping each other get better with what we were saying with our words, and we were just helping each other through the whole process, which was good,” said eighth grader Jussiah Faison.

As Del Rio says, there is something that happens when a kid’s creative imagination is activated, and every kid has that creative spark.