Highland Students Get A Rare Opportunity To See Musical Hamilton

The+cast+of+Hamilton+answer+students%27+questions+during+a+part+of+a+special+field+trip+to+see+a+matinee+performance+of+the+musical.
The cast of Hamilton answer students' questions during a part of a special field trip to see a matinee performance of the musical.

The cast of Hamilton answer students' questions during a part of a special field trip to see a matinee performance of the musical.

Grace Ojewia

Grace Ojewia

The cast of Hamilton answer students' questions during a part of a special field trip to see a matinee performance of the musical.

Grace Ojewia, Co-News Editior

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About 2,000 juniors got the special opportunity to see a matinee performance of the Broadway musical Hamilton at the Eccles Theater downtown. To qualify, students first had to write an essay about why they wanted to go and then the best essay writers were selected for ticket eligibility. Social studies teacher Shaundra Pratt was in charge of choosing students that would then get to complete a course over the span of a few weeks. The class was part of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s “Hamilton Education Program” where eligible schools across the country educated students in preparation to see the musical.

The students that were eligible were 11th graders who were taking U.S History, which coincided with what the class taught. Although, with extra tickets being available, eligibility opened up to more people. The class involved analyzing historical documents, learning about key figures of the founding fathers’ era, and using those to create artistic pieces. At the end of the class, each person was required to create a performance that was no longer than 5 minutes. The guidelines were quite open, with the only requirements being the time limit and the use of a historical document. Students then performed their pieces in front of some teachers and their peers. After all the work was completed, people were then qualified to see the performance completely free of charge.

Each school that attended had the opportunity to have one of their pieces performed at the Eccles Theater on the day of the musical, during the student performances. Representing Highland, juniors Daisy Ocegueda, Marisela Perez, and Jacquelin Zuazo performed their poem on the first published African American poet Phillis Wheatley.

“We wanted to convey that story, how she came from being sold as a slave and then she was able to learn to read and write, and then she wrote poetry,” Ocegueda said. “The first two stanzas were about the beginning of her life as a slave, the second part is when she starts to get her education, and the last part is kind of like her downfall, but she was still very passionate about writing.”

The trio, along with all the other student performers, got to present their creation on the same stage as the one Hamilton was performed on and got to meet some of the cast members.

“When we all performed with just the school, we didn’t think much [of it]. It was so surreal because we never thought that we were actually that good to get in,” Ocegueda said. “It was such a cool experience to be backstage and meet some of the other people who were able to get an opportunity to perform on stage too because they were really talented. It was just a really great experience and I was so glad that I was able to get in.”

After the student performances, the audience got to participate in a question and answer session with the main cast. Each school had sent in questions that students had and the cast picked some to answer. Messages of encouragement were sent out to students about following their dreams and the cast members talked about their journeys to where they are now. The audience was then directed to an outdoor lunch, where they were given their tickets, and later headed back to the theater to finally see the performance.

“Overall, I feel very grateful to have had such an amazing opportunity to see such an amazing show,” junior Jackson Johnson said. “I gained a better understanding of early America and the political climate of the past.”

The overarching theme of the day was about finding your voice and the through the Hamilton Education Program and the field trip many students were able to do just that.

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