Explore Middle School celebrated Black History Month on Wednesday, February 24th. The celebration was emceed by 8th grader Laila McCallum and 7th grader Orchid Ryals. Explore began its celebration with a special performance by Brian Simmons from Living Voices. Living Voices combines live performance with archival film to authentically represent diverse perspectives from the past that resonate today. Simmons performed “The Right to Dream”, a story that follows a young African American activist named Raymond who is coming of age in the South during the Black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Raymond risks his life to fight racism and help lead African Americans to equality and the right to vote through their involvement in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. “The Right to Dream” provides a personal inside view of a tumultuous and challenging period of American history.
8th grader Orchid Ryals shared how moving and impactful the performance was. Orchid described the performance as “Moving, I loved it! The actor spoke very well and his acting was amazing. He made me think more deeply about the topic.”
Following Simmon’s captivating presentation, Explore’s 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students showcased a variety of performances in honor of Black History Month.
8th-grade student, Laila Brown, sang a wonderful rendition of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”.
Laila, who was given her middle name after the famous singer, chose to sing Simone’s song because she felt the artist was an influential African American figure. Commenting on the celebration, Laila exclaimed, “I really enjoyed the celebration! I am so glad students were able to showcase their work. It was nice to see all of Explore’s talents.”
6th graders, Nicolas Bolognino and Brian Brereton wowed the audience with their amazing drum solos. Nicolas performed “Waving Flag” by K’NAAN and Brian performed “Chameleon” by Herbie Hancock.
Nicholas discovered the song while watching soccer videos. He loved the song and felt that it would be fitting for the Black History Month Celebration. Nicholas stated, “I was really nervous at the beginning of the performance. Once the song was over, I felt proud of the performance and enjoyed playing for the celebration.”
7th grader Nia Jackson gave an impassioned recitation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon “Drum Major Instinct”.
Nia’s monologue was followed by 7th graders Lukas Mufute and Sofia Seminowicz, who recited “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson.
Under the leadership of Ms. Cirillo, Explore Voices sang “Joy in my Heart” by Rollo Dilworth. The choir was accompanied on piano by 8th-grade student Vincent Cao and 7th-grade student Ryan Kang.
The celebration concluded with an original dance performed by Explore’s dance team. Members of the team danced to a mashup created by 7th graders Wyatt Stanke and Rajan Grover. The mashup included songs from famous African American artists such as Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, and James Brown.
Thank you to High Tech High School Supervisor Justine Franco, dance instructor Trista DeFilippis and musical theater instructor John Zisa who brought the Explore alumni who are currently in the High Tech Media Arts and Performing Arts Academy to celebrate Black History Month with us.