Imagine the Possibilities Returns Virtually to PDS!

The School's vaunted Imagine the Possibilities annual guest artist program was slated to celebrate its 25th year at Princeton Day School last spring with artist visits and other special community events. Then the COVID-19 pandemic sent schools into remote learning mode across the country, postponing all on-campus PDS celebrations and resulting in canceled visits for the scheduled ITP artists. Hopes were high that ITP's 25th anniversary could be fully celebrated on campus this year, but the stubborn pandemic will require the PDS community celebration of the ITP program's quarter century of impact to remain postponed for now.

On the bright side, ITP guest artist visits have resumed, and this year's group of three accomplished artists will participate in several activities during virtual visits throughout April. Many students have been preparing for weeks and even months ahead of time, and the School is excited to host these sessions across all divisions. In order of artist:

  • illustrator and author Kenard Pak hosts sessions April 13-14
  • poet and author Juan Felipe Herrera hosts sessions April 15-16
  • author Mitali Perkins hosts sessions April 20-21.

Artist visits and workshops will be virtual and accessible for all on-campus and at-home students. In addition, Kenard Pak will conduct a special workshop open to PDS parents at 9:15am on April 13, hosted by the Anne Reid '72 Art Gallery Director, Jody Erdman, and the student-led Gallery Club. (PDS parents may obtain Zoom access information in the 4/2 and 4/9 divisional newsletter emails and on the Parent Portal.)

The School's signature guest artist program, Imagine the Possibilities (ITP), was established in 1996 by Princeton Day School Trustee Emeritus Jack Wallace '48 and his wife, Happy. Made possible through the John D. Wallace, Jr. '78 Memorial Guest Artist Series Fund, the program honors Mr. Wallace and Happy's son, John D. Wallace, Jr. '78, a charismatic young man who loved writing, music and theater and who died in 1990. Mr. Wallace's ties to the School span decades and he is the School's longest-serving trustee and one of the School's most valuable, tireless and respected advocates. For 25 years, Imagine the Possibilities has continued John's legacy, providing opportunities for thousands of PDS students across all Divisions to learn from and work directly with renowned artists, including many award-winning writers and book illustrators. 

ITP Program Director Bev. Gallagher matches up teachers and artists each year in a variety of ways to best enhance the experience for the entire community. The artists are chosen up to a year in advance, giving the teachers a chance to build curriculum around their visits.

“Each year I get to dream again and imagine ways to inspire our community. I feel honored and privileged to have worked on this program for all these years. What started out as a one-year program has truly grown into something amazing. My colleagues find remarkable ways to use the artists and their talents, allowing for spectacular visits,” Ms. Gallagher notes.

Here's a peek at this year's three 2021 ITP guest artists and Princeton Day School virtual sessions in which they will engage from April 13 through April 21:

2021 Imagine the Possibilities guest artist Kenard Pak

Kenard Pak

Illustrator & Author

Kenard Pak, an award winning illustrator, is well known for his expressive artwork, which often features the wonders of the natural world. Pak has worked in animation for over twenty years, including many animated films with Dreamworks, Walt Disney Feature, PDI, and Laika. He has also worked in publishing for seven years, illustrating and authoring his own books, including the seasonal Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn series, while also illustrating books for many other authors. Learn more about Mr. Pak at his website here.

Kenard will take part in LS, MS and US art workshops on Tuesday, April 13, as well as a second US workshop on Wednesday, April 14. He will also participate in LS assemblies on April 14, one for grades PreK-Grade 1 and another for Grades 2-4, as well as an 'unpacking' of the Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? with the First Grade, who have studied the book in collaborative music and science units. Pak's session and demo with Upper School students on the morning of April 13 will also be open to PDS parents. 

2021 Imagine the Possibilities guest artist Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera

Poet & Author

Juan Felipe Herrera is known as a poet and was recognized as Poet Laureate of the United States in 2015, but his art extends well beyond the realm of poetry. His work, which includes video, photography, theater, poetry, prose and performance, has positioned Herrera as a leading voice on the Mexican American and indigenous experience.

In a profile of Herrera in The New York Times, Stephen Burt wrote: "Many poets since the 1960s have dreamed of a new hybrid art, part oral, part written, part English, part something else: an art grounded in ethnic identity, fueled by collective pride, yet irreducibly individual too. Many poets have tried to create such an art: Herrera is one of the first to succeed." Learn more about Mr. Herrera here.

Herrera will conduct guest lectures for Tenth Grade English and history classes, host a poetry workshop with the Seventh Grade on April 15 and visit with students in the Eleventh Grade "Words and Music" elective on April 16. He will also hold poetry readings with the entire Middle School on April 15 and the entire Upper School during their gathering on April 16. 

PDS Fourth Grade students have previously studied Herrera's work, "Jabberwalking", and they have worked on using the titular method as a way of gathering ideas in their writer’s notebooks. Herrera’s use of onomatopoeia, Spanish, slang, idiomatic Spanglish and original/invented words has been highlighted in their studies and will surely be a topic of discussion as he takes part in two Lower School assemblies on the morning of April 15, with PreK-First Grade, and the afternoon of April 16 with Grades 2-4.

2021 Imagine the Possibilities guest artist Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins


Mitali Perkins has written many books for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for a National Book Award) and Rickshaw Girl (adapted into a film by Sleeperwave Productions). Mitali’s wondrous stories feature characters crossing all kinds of borders, seeking community and promoting justice. To paraphrase Mitali, her goal is to make readers laugh or cry, preferably both, as long as their hearts are widening. Learn more about Ms. Perkins here.

Perkins will meet with the Eighth Grade for a book discussion of her work, You Bring the Distant Near, and the Ninth Grade Global Literature class on April 20. On April 21, she will also visit Tenth Grade English and history classes in the morning and the Eleventh Grade in the afternoon for a lecture titled, "Planting a Seed for a Personal Narrative."

She will also host Middle School Book Club with the Fifth Grade on April 20 and take part in two LS assemblies on April 21, first with Grades PreK-1, followed by Grades 2-4. The Third and Fourth Grade have prepared for her visit by reading aloud Perkins' book Tigerboy in the classroom.

For more on the history of the ITP program, see the ITP information on and a previous news story featuring Jack and Happy Wallace's visit with PDS faculty and staff in February of 2020.

Zoom access information for the parent event on April 13 at 9:15am with Kenard Pak is available in the 4/2 and 4/9 divisional newsletter emails or on the Parent Portal here. 

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