‘HipHistory NB’ to bring history alive for New Bedford middle schoolers

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NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford history is about to get the “Hamilton” treatment.

“HipHistory NB” will be the theme of a youth engagement program in three New Bedford schools — Roosevelt Middle School, Nativity Preparatory School, and Global Learning Charter Public School — thanks to grants awarded to AHA!, 3rd EyE Unlimited and the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts from MassHumanities and the New Bedford Education Foundation.

“Working with AHA!, the schools and local cultural institutions on the HipHistory NB project is an amazing opportunity for 3rd EyE Unlimited,” said Keri Cox, board president of 3rd EyE. “Continuing the work from the Youth Ambassador Program with the Park Service, the HipHistory program could be the first step to meeting local youth who will use hip hop and spoken word as a vehicle to connect with the New Bedford community.”

This story first appeared in the Standard TImes – HERE

The first phase will include an interactive assembly program at the three schools that will reinterpret historical narratives using spoken and musical performance.

These performances are based upon the model developed by YAP! (Youth Ambassador Program), a collaborative program between 3rd EyE and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. These interactive performances will be facilitated by members of the 3rd EyE team that developed the content.

“This is such an exciting opportunity to engage the schools and community in a common goal that will impact the students in a positive way,” said Lynn Souza, director of Fine Arts for the New Bedford Public Schools. “Not only will students be learning about their community, but they will be working together with students from different schools. There is so much investment in the students from all partners and I can’t wait to see the culminating performance!”

A grant of $7,500 from MassHumanities and $1,000 from the New Bedford Education Foundation were awarded for the program, which has three primary goals:

• To introduce middle school students to their local history in an engaging and meaningful way.

• To give interested students the opportunity to participate in a primary research process in which they can discover information, reflect on the process, and create their own interpretations of the histories

• To connect middle school students from different school environments through a working project.

“We’re thrilled to be able to launch a project that will connect local students with the identity of their city and the evolving nature of civic engagement,” said AHA! Director Lee Heald. “HipHistory NB will share the resources of the community with local schools, connect kids from different schools and culminate in performances which give back to the community.”

Phase Two is a pilot after-school group for students from all three middle schools. Meeting once a week for 10 weeks, students will be introduced to local scholars and institutions which support the cultural collection of materials and interpretation and will have a chance to showcase what they are learning through spoken word, lyrics and poetry.

HipHistory NB will culminate in public performances in local libraries and AHA! nights in the participating institutions, as well as a video for local cable access TV.

The project will partner with local historians from the New Bedford Historical Society, the Fishing Heritage Center, New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum, and New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.

These scholars will connect the students with the identity of their city and the evolving nature of civic engagement, a press release about the initiative stated.

The weekly themes include whaling as an industry, abolition and the Underground Railroad focusing on Frederick Douglass, and maritime work and fishing, among others.

The final project of student performances will focus on how the identity of the city is reflected in the written and spoken voices of its people and how the future will be narrated by youth.

AHA! (Art, History & Architecture) is New Bedford’s free Downtown Cultural Night and collaborative cultural organization with over 60 downtown venue partners. Its mission is to be a cooperative venture dedicated to invigorating the downtown New Bedford cultural scene using the power of the arts and cultural enterprise, creativity and collaboration to forge a new economy. This includes creating a platform for local and regional artists, cultural groups and educators to present and being a key partner in the city’s creative economy initiatives.

Since 1995, area residents have been turning to the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts to make their philanthropic giving as effective as possible. The Community Foundation is a public charity serving thousands of people who share a common concern – improving the quality of life in Southeastern Massachusetts. To date, the Community Foundation has distributed over $25 million from 200 funds to humanitarian, educational and cultural organizations in the region.

This story first appeared in the Standard TImes – HERE