HVPA Students Bring Refugee Issues to Light Through Sneaker Art

HVPA Students Bring Refugee Issues to Light Through Sneaker Art

A group of young scholars from the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy will publicly present their learning on November 19 at 6 PM at the Rough Draft Bookshop on John Street in Kingston. Sneakers hand-painted by the youngsters will be on display. The sneakers are art pieces from a unit entitled “Walk in Their Shoes.” Each pair of sneakers represents a synthesis of the students’ learning and experiences related to past and current refugee crises.

How well does the average young person understand the refugee situation? It’s a question that teachers at the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy recently posed to their own students. 

Over the last several weeks, young scholars in Grades 9 and 10 have read, discussed, and investigated various refugee crises. As part of this in-depth assignment, they also heard from local refugees living in the area. The students were so moved by the information they learned that they decided to hold a public exhibition. They are donating their sneaker-art to Voice Theater, which will be auctioning off the sneakers during the exhibition hosted by the Kingston bookstore.

“I think bringing local refugees into the school was a key moment for students,” said Steve Masson, Hudson Valley Pathways ELA teacher. “It’s different when you read something in the third person; sometimes you don’t quite relate to the unfathomable experiences these people have gone through. But to listen to the stories directly from the refugees themselves makes it so much more real.” 

The Hudson Valley Pathways Academy scholars have been organizing every aspect of the event—everything from the promotional flyers to the bid sheets. 

 Hudson Valley Pathways Humanities and Global Competencies teacher Matthew Fagan said, “The students have come a long way. In the beginning they didn’t know much about the refugee crises. Now they know the difference between immigrant, migrant, and refugee. They know about past refugee crises and ones we are experiencing now.”

Proceeds collected and raised by Voice Theater of Woodstock during this event will benefit local refugees.


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