Wednesday, December 7, 2016

HAMILTON'S Educational Program for 20,000 NYC Public School Students


International High School at LaGuardia Community College

HAMILTON’s Educational Program in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, NYC Department of Education and The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History shall provide 20, 000 New York City student tickets to see the musical Hamilton.

On November 30, 2016, 1300 students from New York City (NYC) public schools gathered at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway for the inauguration of this unprecedented partnership funded through a $1.46 million grant provided by The Rockefeller Foundation. This innovative collaboration provides students the opportunity to see Hamilton on Broadway after studying American History, a curriculum designed by The Gilder Lehrman Institute.

The program started with opening remarks by the partners, followed by original student performances from 17 NYC public schools, a Q & A with some members of Hamilton, lunch, then a Matinee performance of HAMILTON! The enthusiasm of the students throughout the whole day was immense with deafening applause and whistles of excitement and happiness. It was a joyful day.

Student representatives from the 17 NYC public schools presented original material live on the same stage that HAMILTON is performed consisting of songs, rap, poetry, modern dance, scenes, and monologues—all incorporating themes from American History. The themes were centered around the American Revolution, the Boston Massacre, Equal Rights, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Human Rights, Government Pensions, Slave Trade, Racism, Women’s Rights and so much more.

The group of participating high schools was selected by the New York City Department of Education: Achievement First University Prep High School, Bronx Leadership Academy II High School, Bronxwood Preparatory Academy, Brooklyn High School of the Arts, Brooklyn theatre Arts High School, Channel View School For Research, Community Scholl for Social Justice, Democracy Prep Harlem Hight School, East Side Community School, International High School at LaGuardia Community College, John Adams High School, Landmark High School, Mott Haven Village Preparatory High School, Repertory Company Hight School for Theatre Arts, and School for Democracy and Leadership. 

As HAMILTON creator Lin-Manuel Miranda said, “There is no feeling on earth like performing for a theater full of students who are learning about our founders in class and seeing how it still relates to their own lives on stage.” Miranda’s goal is to build this program across America.

Additionally, Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation summed it up quite nicely, “The partnership between HAMILTON and The Rockefeller Foundation is a game changer for 20,000 New York City public schools’ students. Today, the first 1,300 experienced something truly inspirational – the story of America's founding fathers as told by actors and actresses who look just like them, through a transcendent Broadway musical created by a student of the New York public school system —just like them. We couldn't throw away our shot at bringing Hamilton to the audience it could affect most, who otherwise might not have had the opportunity.” This was also the theme of the Q & A afterwards with some of the cast members of HAMILTON.

James G. Basker, President of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History said, "This project is transformative. Twenty thousand students will experience American history in a new way and find their own connections to the Founding Era, to the performing arts, and to the future of our country." 

NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said, "I thank the Miranda family for assuring that their passion for history and music is shared by New York City students. This musical will impact the lives of thousands of students and connect to enriching curriculum, undoubtedly sparking passion and an understanding of how inspiring history can be in the classroom, in our great City, and beyond."

I think the partners characterized their aspirations succinctly. It’s a marvelous idea to roll out this program throughout America. Bravo to all in creating this awe-inspiring partnership to educate students about the Founding Fathers!

- Laura Thompson -

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