Boynton after-school program turns to violins to fight violence

Instructor: Lessons combat violence, truancy

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - The violin is new to Shaina Daniel, 16, of Lake Worth.

She says she's from a tough part of town.

Two of her cousins were shot last year. One in Suburban West Palm Beach and another in Boynton Beach.

"Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there's police on my street," said Daniel.

But in a room at the Hester Community Center in Boynton Beach, danger feels far away.

Two dozen violins are being played by students who hadn't seen them until just a few months ago.

"If I didn't come to the program, I would be outside with other friends, playing, maybe getting into trouble," said Daniel.

To satisfy a requirement of a $1 million federal grant that funds their entire after-school program, administrators at the Juvenile Transition Center had to pick a cultural activity for the eighty teens they also mentor in academics and college admissions.

"They're used to drums, and beat boxes and turntables, but nothing like this," said Carl McKoy, the head of the program.

Most of the teens go to historically low-performing schools and are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch.

The government considers them academically at-risk. Instructor Lehins Aragon says the violin combats violence, truancy and peer pressure.

"They feel part of a small society, which is what I would call an orchestra," said Aragon.

Shaina Daniel says the violin has given her something to be proud of.

She looks forward to their concert night, when they'll perform for their families.

"If your parents see you playing something, they're going to be proud of you doing something at school, not playing around," said Daniel.

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