This edition of CSSMA Voices features community member, 72 Coordinator, adult student, and faculty member Jesse Pyun! Jesse has been a part of Church Street School for his entire life, and has become a treasured member of this community as well as an example of the indelible impact CSSMA's unique approach to arts education can have on a life.
Keep reading to hear more about Jesse’s story, the work he is doing with CSSMA’s 72 Teen Program, and why he thinks it is more important than ever to show your support for Church Street School this Giving Season!
Our 2023 Annual Appeal ends THIS SUNDAY, and we are asking for your support to help us reach our $75,000 goal. All proceeds go towards ensuring that Church Street School remains an accessible resource for the arts, community, and self expression in NYC and beyond.
Click the button below to give today. Thank you for supporting CSSMA in 2023!
Jesse’s Church Street School story literally began in the womb! He is the youngest child of Betsy Kerlin, (CSSMA’s beloved, former Associate Director) who at the time would come to CSSMA to volunteer and bring her older daughter Kerlin to classes. When she eventually came to work on 74 Warren Street, it was often with Jesse in tow. Jesse, (now 19), first started participating in Church Street School programs as a toddler in our Explore! Series classes.
He shared “my earliest memories at CSSMA are of the summer arts express classes when I was 3. They are some of my fondest. I remember being in the old music room at 74 Warren grabbing the toys out of the closet with Kute and learning to socialize with other children my age, genuinely having the best time of my life. [...] [I grew] up participating in most of CSSMA's music and art programs. From Creative Arts Club, (making projects that I still have to this day), and [meeting] art teachers I still know and love, to Band Factory where I learned a love for music & performance and how to be a part of a team.” said Jesse when we spoke about his history with the school.
As he grew, Jesse’s role at CSSMA continued to expand. Starting with assisting in classrooms, on school pick-ups, and at events, to eventually joining the admin team as front desk support and Coordinator of our 72 teen program.
When we spoke about what drew him to becoming 72's official leader, Jesse expounded on the role this program has played in his life through the years. “72 is a really special program for me; starting on the teen council at 17 it gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of music, art, and gave me a space to meet some of my closest friends.”
Under his direction, 72 has grown immensely, serving over 1000 teens across NYC in 2023 through their monthly events. “The work we are currently doing with 72 is to organize and create fun and safe spaces for teens to showcase and perform their art and music. I was promoted to coordinator in June and oversee the organization of events and give space for our teen council to create the space and event they want to create. 72 has no boundaries and wants to continue to grow and change with the times and with teens to bring teens together and create something special.”
Jesse was also very excited to discuss 72's newest musical/ performance project Battle of the Bands! “72's Battle of the Bands will feature NYC teen bands battling to see who can win over the judges. This will be a really fun series of concerts that will bring bands together to play under pressure and win prizes! Stay tuned on our Instagram page @7eventytwo where we will be releasing more information.”
A Performance from a Recent 72 Concert! Featuring: Moderate Rock (Nikolas Yilmaz, Guitar/Vocals; Ricky Diamond, Bass; Carter Nyhan, Drums; Mano Merca, Synthesizer)
In his many years at Church Street School Jesse has been a part of almost every program we offer. He says that his lifetime at the school has had a large impact on him as a person. “Growing up at CCSMA I was constantly surrounded by art and music. This has played one of the largest roles in who I am today by giving me the tools to be creative and express myself in ways I wouldn't have known how to without the presence of art throughout my life.” On top of his role at Church Street School, Jesse is currently a student at Queens College studying Education with hopes of becoming a music teacher himself someday.
When asked why he believes Church Street School is a vital resource, Jesse talked about the creative freedoms available to all and the importance of being able to express oneself through the arts. “CSSMA is a place where everyone is welcome to not only explore music and art but most importantly themselves. Through music and art, you learn to unlock creativity and find things inside yourself and express them.”
He was also quick to point to all of YOU, our community, when discussing what he believes is so special about Church Street School. “To me the most beautiful part of CSSMA is the community of people who love the arts. This school couldn't function without the people who appreciate it and give back. CSSMA is not only the staff and faculty but everyone who walks through the lobby door to expand their creative spirits.”
Jesse Performing at Last Summer's Happening Block Party with his former Band Factory Group 'Phil's Band' featuring Ginger Asen, Guitar/Vocals; Jesse Pyun, Drums; and Claire Duget, Bass.
We are so grateful to Jesse for sharing his CSSMA journey with us. We are so endlessly inspired by his story of lifelong creative joy, and his dedication to providing young people across the city a place to discover their authentic, creative selves.
Our December 31st Annual Appeal deadline is THIS SUNDAY, and we are still counting on your generosity to help us reach our goal of raising $75,000 in support of accessible arts programs and experiences, like 72! Your support is vital to supporting students like Jesse who can literally grow up in the unique, warm and inspiring place that is Church Street School.
A final note from Jesse about supporting Church Street School’s
2023 Annual Appeal Fundraiser:
“CSSMA is growing and changing constantly and I believe people should support this amazing school so that it can continue to support its community. The future of CSSMA is bright as we all are trying our very hardest to grow and expand the wonderful programs already in place. The downtown TriBeCa area needs to preserve its oldest nonprofit music & art school so that it can continue to set a spark to all of our creative flame.”
Click the button below to show your support for Church Street School for Music & Art by making a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year! Thank you so much to everyone who has already given.
Other Ways to Give Back to CSSMA!
Interested in sponsorship or becoming a CSSMA volunteer? Please email
CSSMA Director of Development Abby Levin at email@example.com.