Middle school students create play, documentary to tell stories of racism and civil rights
Youth lends itself to fresh perspectives and new ideas, which is something Greenville Renaissance Scholars hopes to encourage students to explore.
Middle school students in the GRS afterschool program have created a play and documentary which explores the blues, civil rights and race. Students are offering their performance free of charge to the community and hope their hard work will be well received.
“This project is theirs,” said GRS Executive and Program Director Jon Delperdang.
“They were inspired by their own personal experiences and wanted to tell a story through their perspective.”
Students will present the play and documentary to the public Thursday, May 2 and Tuesday, May 14 at E.E. Bass Cultural Arts Center, at 5:30 p.m. and da’ House of Khafrer, 300 Main St. Indianola at 5:30 p.m.
“This is impressive work for such young students, ranging in ages from 10 to 14 years-old,” Delperdang said. “They have been able to come together as a group to discss and address important topics. The team work they have shown in researching and creating the documentary and writing a play is outstanding.”
Delperdang said community support for the students in the program encourages their continued efforts.
“The community values the arts and values what kids have to say,” he said. “These students are the future of Greenville and our area. They are the ones who will be leading in the future.
“To encourage young people to share their perspective and have an opportunity to gain insight into how they think and feel helps us understand what we need to do to prepare our region for future generations.”
Delperdang said he can understand why students may be nervous and excited to share their art with the community.
“At this age they are not used to performing, so they are a little nervous,” Delperdang said. “That is something our organization wants to give students – a chance to share their thoughts and ideas about what is going on in the world through creative expression.
“We want them to learn about themselves and the community through the arts,” he continued. “Using creative expression and the arts is something we have found is valuable for self esteem, developing a variety of skills and gives students n opportunity to come into their ow. They become more confident in who they are as a person and the role they wish to play in the community. Art is a great way to improves someone’s life.”
The afterschool program through GRS aims to inspire, motivate and prepare middle school scholars to succeed on a college track through academic and art programs!
The students’ projects were made possible through funding from two grants. The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area funded the project for students to create the documentary, and the Mississippi Humanities provided an grant which supported the play and performance.
Community members can show their support of GRS by attending the performance and by making donations to the GRS fund at the Community Foundation of Washington County.
“We are so excited to have The Greenville Renaissance Scholars Fund under our umbrella here at the community foundation,” Terri Lane, CFWC executive director said.
“This fund was established as a means to create a long-term endowment to secure the legacy of Greenville Renaissance Scholars for generations to come,” Lane said. “This fund will ensure the future vitality, substantiality and growth of Greenville Renaissance Scholars, allowing the organization's leadership and volunteers to continue serving the children of our community.”
Secure online donations can be made at cfwashco.org or contributions can be mailed to the Community Foundation of Washington County, P.O. Box 5910, Greenville, MS 38704, with donations made out to the Community Foundation of Washington County with Greenville Renaissance Scholars Fund in the memo line.
About Greenville Renaissance Scholars
Greenville Renaissance Scholars (GRS) is dedicated to provided the youth of the greater Greenville area systematic, engaging and academically challenging after-school and summer programming.
Since it’s inception in 2007, GRS has stayed true to its mission to inspire, motivate and prepare middle school students to succeed on a college track.
Through programming like its famous summer Camp Renaissance, the expanded School Year Renaissance program, and consistent ACT Prep sessions before each ACT test, GRS provides an avenue for students to learn, be creative, and lead healthy lives. GRS has positively impacts the lives of hundreds of middle school students throughout the greater Greenville area.
The leadership and volunteers focus on building and strengthening core academic skills, on providing enrichment opportunities in the arts, and on promoting and guiding college planning and exposure opportunities.