[Source: Stephanie Innes, Daily Star] — A youth docent program at a tiny Downtown museum will be honored today at the White House, partly for teaching Tucson children “the extraordinary history of their hometown.” The program at La Pilita Museum, which trains children ages 8 through 11 to lead site tours, is one of 18 community arts and humanities programs nationwide to earn a 2007 Coming Up Taller Award. More than 350 programs were in contention for the honor, says a news release from the award program. First lady Laura Bush is expected to present the awards. La Pilita Museum will receive $10,000 as part of the reward. Two representatives of the local program will be in Washington, D.C., to collect the award today — Joan Daniels, La Pilita’s development and education director, and former senior docent Jacob Mejias, who is 12 and completed his docent service last year. Jacob’s mother will also be at the ceremony.
Children, typically from Carrillo Magnet School across the street from the museum, usually participate in the docent program for three years. They must apply to be part of the program, which has between 15 and 20 young docents at any given time. The commitment is one hour per day, four days each week. Students conduct museum tours, tend the gardens and give histories of a vibrant mural, of the adjacent El Tiradito, a historic wishing shrine, and the El Ojito spring (pictured). They have interviewed dozens of residents of Barrio Viejo, where La Pilita is located, as part of an oral history project. Part of their training also includes studying local and Arizona history, and setting up exhibits at the museum. On Friday, the master docents, who wear blue caps and vests, were training youths newer to the program, reminding them why their jobs are special. Until they achieve master status, the junior docents wear orange caps and vests.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Greg Bryan, Daily Star.]