background image
with the idea of doing an alphabet."
The entire project took five weeks of class
time, Arabas explained. After meeting with
students and teachers at Murkland, the MCC
students designed the letters during spring
semester 2011. The alphabet was printed (on a
type of plastic) by ProForma Graphics last
summer, and installed at the school in
October. Printing costs were funded by the
Cambodian Opera Fund, which is
administered by the Cultural Council of
Arabas requires each of her design classes to
complete a community-service project to give
students the opportunity to work on a "real
world" project, facing "real deadlines" and
"real clients," she said. As part of the
assignment, the 36 MCC students also had to
conduct research into the way young children
"One of the first things they had to figure out
was, `Who are we designing this alphabet
for?' " Arabas explained. "Basically, they
learned their clients were younger than 5 years
old and less than 3 feet tall!"
Once the student designers knew who their
target audience was, the class held a lottery to
decide who would design which letters. ("Q"
and "X" were especially challenging, said
Arabas.) As part of their research, they had to
figure out what word/image associations their
pint-sized clients might make. That is, when a
preschooler thinks of the letter "O," the first
word that pops into their minds probably isn't
"ozone." But they just might think of "orange."
When MCC student Karon Keeney was
designing the letter "B," she showed her
design to her roommate's two young nieces.
"They said I should use `ball' and `boat' in my
letter. So, I made sure I added pictures of those
two things," said Keeney.
Arabas also required each design student to
incorporate the drawings made by the
Murkland fourth-graders. For the letter "K,"
for example, one young artist drew a picture of
cute, pink Kirby, something that caught many
of the college students off guard. However,
Kirby is the star-character of a wildly popular
children's video game. To a preschooler, if you
see "Kirby," you think "K."
All 52 letters are jam packed with similar
highly colorful, multicultural images, which
makes them not only an effective teaching
tool, but also a powerful visual welcome for
the entire school community, said Murkland
Principal Jason DiCarlo.
"The alphabet is very appealing to kids, and
yet it's purposeful, too," said DiCarlo. "It
shows that our school environment is very kid
friendly. Everybody loves it ­ the students, the
staff and our parents."
This MCC-Murkland partnership, one of
many between Middlesex and the Lowell
Public Schools, illustrates how the college is
helping K-12 teachers and schools prepare the
college students of tomorrow, said Jean
Franco, Superintendent of the Lowell Public
"We cherish our partnerships with Middlesex,"
said Franco. "We are always looking at what
we can do for the young people that we
share ­ since many of our students go to
MCC. We all want kids who are prepared and
college ready, and who have access to higher
education," she said. "This is just the
beginning of many more successful
partnerships to come."
For more information about the Middlesex-
Murkland alphabet project, contact MCC Art
Professor Jan Arabas at 781-280-2276 or
Kathy Register
MCC student Karon Keeney
and her letter "B."
A World of Music spring concert series continues through early May and brings a variety of music and musicians to the
MCC Concert Hall (Building 6) on the Bedford campus. All concerts are free and open to the public.
ˇ Cambodian Music ­ Traditional & Classical, a concert featuring Cambodian percussionist Kimhan Meas with MCC
faculty members Mark Berger, viola, and Carmen Rodríguez-Peralta, piano, will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 21.
ˇ MCC faculty member Thomas Rohde will perform a Classical Guitar concert, including works by Scarlatti, Barrios,
Torroba and Serrano, at 8 p.m. Friday, April 27.
ˇ Award-winning Japanese pianist Naho Bessho will perform works by Weber, Mendelssohn, Liszt and Chopin at 3 p.m.
Sunday, May 6.
ˇ Two MCC Student Recitals will also be held this spring. Student instrumentalists, singers and the MCC Percussion
Ensemble will perform at 12:30 p.m. Monday, May 7, in the MCC Concert Hall (Building 6), on the Bedford campus. MCC
voice students will perform at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 10, in MCC's Federal Building Assembly Room, 50 Kearney
Square, on the Lowell campus.
For more information, contact Carmen Rodriguez-Peralta,
A World of Music director, at or
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