Students, teachers and faculty took a journey through African American history through the arts during a school-wide assembly program put on by the Eastside High School Black History Month committee.
Classes filed into the EHS auditorium on Wednesday and Thursday as music was played by a student on the piano welcoming them to the event.
The audience enjoyed a student and teacher filled cast, which put on the show titled “Metamorphosis: Celebrating the Historical Journey of African Americans in the Arts.”
The cast acted out scenes from films such as the “Color Purple,” written by Alice Walker in the early 1980s, as well as a familiar African American sitcom from the 90s, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which starred one of Hollywood’s highest paid actor’s, Will Smith.
Students also took the audience back to the Motown era of the 60s with a hit from The Temptations, “My Girl,” and moonwalked across the stage as the late pop king Michael Jackson, with the song “Human Nature.”
Program organizer Monique Mitchell, a ninth and 12th grade government teacher, said the planning for the Black History Month program and events started in September. Some of the events for Black History Month included an essay contest, a door decorating contest and a student developed video that focused on black history and was shown school wide. However, Mitchell said when students found out about the Black History Month program, it sparked a lot of interest.
“By the time word got around, students were asking if they could be in it and we started to develop the idea a little bit over time,” Mitchell said. “We knew that we definitely wanted to have it student centered and student focused. Because we know that their peers are able to hold their attention more.
“It was important for us to have diverse cast and crew because we wanted a proper reflection of the Eastside population. We also wanted to make sure, though we were highlighting black history month, that we focused on the fact that black history is American history,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the songs and play performances were just a taste for students to see what it was like to attend a theatre.
“They were entertained, but they definitely learned something,” Mitchell said. “This month we’ve seen a lot of school pride at a rate higher than we usually do. They are learning about interesting talents about their classmates that they are not aware of, so it has helped a lot.”
Heather Mathews, a ninth and 10th grade literature teacher, agreed that students enjoyed the program.
“It’s nice to see all the kids get excited about something,” Mathews said. “It was great to see.”
Some of the students who were a part of the play shared why they got involved with the program.
“I wanted to shine light on our history,” said Thiree Pinnock, an EHS senior. “This is a predominantly white school, and there’s not a lot of appreciation for the arts or black art, so when I heard about it I was enthusiastic about it and wanted to do it and be a participant in it as much as possible.”
“I’m a theater kid and I’m in theatre a lot and I noticed that [some of the students] don’t know about black history,” said Danysha Lamadieu, an EHS 10th grader. “It’s really important for all of us to know about it.”
Mitchell thanked all of the administrators and teachers at EHS for their support as well as all the local sponsors in the community.