Category Archives: Humanities

Hamilton Happening

Young women walking to Boston Opera House to see Hamilton

This fall Hamilton, the musical and cultural phenomenon, drew standing-room-only crowds from adults and children of all ages during its run at the Boston Opera House. Along with the show came the Hamilton Education Program — a partnership between The Gilder Lehrman Institute, the producers of Hamilton, and the Lin-Manuel Miranda family — in which students from high schools with high percentages of low-income families are invited to see the show and integrate Alexander Hamilton and the founding era into their classroom studies.

2,500 students from schools across Massachusetts attended two stirring special events in Boston, where young people performed their own Hamilton-inspired dance, music, and spoken word on the very stage where the play had been performed. These impassioned readings and performances were accompanied by thundering applause and cheers from an audience that owned each line being recited. By presenting an original work on the founding era, each young person had earned their way to this stage, using their creativity to bring history to life through monologues, rhymes, songs, and poems.

Before the show, teachers guided students through a unique, hands-on class project using Gilder Lehrman Institute resources to introduce the people, events, and documents of the founding era. Students also learned how Miranda, the creator of Hamilton, incorporated primary sources into the songs he wrote for the show and used that knowledge to produce their own performance pieces.

Mass Cultural Council proudly supported this unique learning opportunity, as schools took advantage of our Big Yellow School Bus grants to give students a chance be part of the cultural movement sparked by Miranda’s genius. Many of our Creative Youth Development programs participated actively, bringing their vision and voice onto the stage:

Hamilton inspired me to take a chance. Like Alexander Hamilton, don’t wait for things come to you. Like Aaron Burr; you’ve got to go for it.” – Luis Gonzalez, Margarita Muñiz Academy student

“I think Hamilton‘s deeper meaning shows us that there are many perspectives to see something and we should always keep an open mind.” – Francely Rosario, Margarita Muñiz Academy student

Hamilton showed me that in life, there is nothing that can give you what you want. You need to work hard to get what you want.” – Adonis Jimenez, Margarita Muñiz Academy student

Hamilton made me think of more ways one can be creative with art.” – Edwin Padilla, Margarita Muñiz Academy student

New Bedford Whaling Museum Named 2017 NAHYP Awardee

L_R Yamilex Ramus Peguero, Maria Cardoso, Christina Turner (Dir. Apprentices & Interns) with the NAHYP Award in Washington, D.C.Mass Cultural Council extends hearty congratulations to New Bedford Whaling Museum for receiving the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Award for their High School Apprenticeship Program. The High School Apprenticeship Program immerses students in skill-based humanities and interpretive sciences projects, mentorship, and valuable life skills instruction such as financial literacy, college preparation, public speaking, and audience engagement.

For almost two decades, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has presented the NAHYP Awards, the nation’s highest honor for out of school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities. Presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts , National Endowment for the Humanities  and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the award recognizes outstanding Creative Youth Development (CYD) programs from all over the country from a range of urban and rural settings. (See all 2017 Awardees.)

The NAHYP Award showcases and supports excellence in programs that open new pathways to learning, self-discovery, and achievement. Programs are also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.

To date, 51 students have graduated from the Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program, 100% have graduated from high school and 94% pursued some form of post-secondary education. About 40% of alumni have returned to the museum as part-time employees, interns, volunteers, and guest speakers.

Out of a pool of over 350 NAHYP nominations nationwide, three Massachusetts programs were also recognized as finalists this year:

The achievements of these programs speak to the exemplary work in the field of CYD happening across the Commonwealth and a strong testament to all of those committed to working with youth to achieve social change through the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Apprentices Build Boats & Life Skills

Boat building by New Bedford Whaling Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program participantsOn a Thursday afternoon in March, students at New Bedford Whaling Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program are  diligently at work. Decked out in goggles and gloves, they use a blueprint to construct a boat – a life-size replica of a small, paper model. From assembling to smoothing, gluing and prepping, students take care of the entire operation.

Open to low-income New Bedford high school students, the Apprenticeship Program is designed to immerse students in skill-based projects in the humanities and interpretive sciences, intensive mentorship, and life skills instruction, including college preparation and financial literacy. They also receive training in public speaking, personal comportment, and audience engagement. Students meet four days a week after school in the Museum’s Apprentice Lab.

Apprentices exemplify the mission of the program with clear professionalism, goal-oriented motivation and resourcefulness. As students directed a tour through the diverse galleries describing the exhibits with a comfortable familiarity, it was clear that the museum is a second home.

“I have learned about some of the components that are used to make boats and actually how to build a boat. I have also learned how to handle my personal finances.” – Kelton, youth participant

“This program has challenged me because it’s made me more open and more comfortable talking to people.” – Darlene, youth participant

“[The Apprenticeship Program] has challenged me to practice my English” – Suely, youth participant

“The program has really challenged me to find a balance between school and work.”  – Ryland, youth participant

“Traveling to Iceland [with the program] was honestly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever been given. It really changed my outlook on people and I’d really love to go back and explore more.” – Alexandra, youth participant

Boat building by New Bedford Whaling Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program participants

To date, there have been 47 graduates from the Apprenticeship Program. 100% have graduated from high school and 93% have pursued post-secondary education. This year, an apprentice will attend an Ivy League school in the fall, the first of the program’s graduates to do so. A second program graduate is also scheduled to receive their Master’s in 2018. The program boasts a strong alumni base with past apprentices returning to the museum as part-time employees, interns, volunteers, and guest speakers.

The group’s boat is set to float at the Boat Launching Party on May 20 at the Community Boating Center of New Bedford.