Local high school students use the arts to highlight figures in Black History

This past February, WKYC partnered with students from Cleveland public schools to celebrate Black History Month in a unique way.

This past February, WKYC partnered with students from Cleveland public schools to celebrate Black History Month in a unique way.

From portraits to plays, they served up a multimedia salute to the city’s African-American history. How art mixed with technology, becoming a creative canvas for local students who “See the Possible.”

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This year, students from Cleveland Metropolitan School District took a fresh approach to spotlighting the achievements of African-American History-Makers who hail from Cleveland.

Following tons of research, students from Cleveland High School for Digital Arts used their talents in graphic design, animation and digital music to create tributes to barrier-breakers like Dorothy Dandridge, Larry Doby and Jesse Owens.

Students from the video game design class created a virtual reality “museum” with the information they learned, another student wove all the research into a play. And that’s students from Cleveland School of the Arts got into the act.

They took the script for the play, “I Dream of Cleveland,” and brought it to life. Similar to an urban “A Christmas Carol,” the play centers around a girl who has no interest in studying black history, but is visited by the spirit of Langston Hughes, a graduate of Cleveland’s Central High School. Through him, she begins to understand the struggles and significance of those who came before her….the play depicted heroes like Garrett Morgan “pitching” his invention of the gas mask on a show like Shark Tank, and acting pioneers Dorothy Dandridge and Ruby Dee talking about their achievements on a modern-day show with stars like Halle Berry.

Not only did the students learn about their hometown’s important role in black history, they also learned to appreciate the stories of men and women who paved the way for present and future generations.

This student project received lots of attention and applause during February. The play was performed at five Cleveland schools, in front of more than 1,500 students. And more than a dozen students appeared on WKYC throughout February, in a series of vignettes where they explained their Black History projects.

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