On December 5th, students from the 2nd, 7th and 8th grades proceeded into the Statehouse to prepare for their world-inspired performance.
Performing songs from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, in addition to a few holiday numbers, the 2nd grade Esperanza Spalding Orchestra and the 7th and 8th grade Dudamel Strings ensemble showcased their diverse artistic skill.
One moment in particular that resonated with the audience was the original poems students performed about freedom. The eighth graders had begun working on projects surrounding the concepts of immigration, citizenship and the American dream. They read memoirs written by immigrants, studied the powers and structures of the American government, and even interviewed people in their communities about these concepts. The stories they learned became inspiration for the poetry they performed over their music.
“Why do we speak, but no change?”
“Never pursuit of happiness nor amnesty for me in this law of nature of Homeland of the free.”
Following their powerful performance, the eighth graders received the unique opportunity of discussing these topics with three political legislators in Boston including State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, State Senator Eldridge’s Communications Director Peter Missouri, and Representative Jeffrey Sanchez’s Legislative Director Robert Chambers.
Their eighth grade Humanities teacher, Zachary Kent, was beyond excited to provide his students the opportunity to bring these conversations to the very people that help define them. “Not only were students able to hear and discuss legislators’ perspectives, and compare them to what they had heard in the field – they were also able to challenge those responses and understand themselves as a part of our democratic process”, he said.
The legislators were very impressed by the level of insight demonstrated by our eighth graders. One student questioned whether the American dream was materialistic, another pondered whether or not citizenship should be easy to receive, and on a more heart-wrenching note, another student demanded to know what the city was doing to address the violence in her neighborhood.
These questions, in culmination with the art they performed, are part of why we make art an integral part of their learning. Our students will be entering high school with the ability to analyze, question, and express the many challenges faced by the world they inherit. These skills will allow them to own their place in any space, so that one day they may become the answers to the very questions they contemplate.