The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

Black history presentation shows local talent

This February, Shorewood High School hosted its eighth annual Black History Month presentation organized by the club Youth Rising Up (YRU). Each year, the presentation celebrates Black voices within the community, diversity within the school, and Black culture. However, this year’s presentation, ‘An Introspective Moment,’ focused specifically on identity within oneself. The show included the performance of several poets from Milwaukee and Chicago,  as well as student musical numbers.

Throughout the school year, YRU assembled the presentation, which included finding participants, coordinating guest speakers, and developing a theme. The presentation was previewed to the intermediate and high schools on February 21st, with another showing taking place later that day. Mahailey Stephens, senior and co-president of YRU, described the planning process.

“Once we get our theme, we can figure out the music acts we want to have, what talking pieces we’re going to hit on, and we just go from there,” Stephens said. “This year we focused on community and self-reflection.”

The stage was shared by several guest speakers, including Kwabena Antoine Nixon, Shelley Conley, MissDia (also known as The PoetryPusher), Jay Williams, Jerode Rodgers, and Moe-mentumculture. They shared insights about racism, confidence, and youth through readings of their poetry.

The production of the presentation invited club members to challenge themselves in new ways, allowing them to learn skills that they can use for future projects. 

“My favorite part [of the show] is seeing how at the start of the process you have people who come from all walks of talent levels,” said Nelson Brown, an advisor of the club and IT Specialist at Shorewood High School. “You have people who have been doing this for the majority of their lives, but then you also have people whose first time going on stage will be for this show.”

In addition to the technical planning that went into the show, another major consideration taken by YRU was what the student body will take away from the presentation when it is performed during an all-school assembly. 

“For our Black students or our diverse students, or all of our students who feel like they don’t belong, it’s so they know there’s someone looking out for them and that there’s representation,” said Isabella Busby, senior and co-president of YRU. “Then there’s the educational aspect. Like I said, there isn’t a lot of representation in our curriculum, so there are a lot of kids who aren’t a part of these communities and don’t know [about their culture] until they see the show.”

Furthermore, club leaders focused on creating a unique experience that would not only be informative for viewers but also offer them  a new way to reflect on themselves when relating to the topics discussed.

“Our show [was] a little bit different this year; we [had] some poets come in, and I want people to really challenge themselves to think about what’s being said,” Busby said.  

Club leaders hoped that audience members would question and delve into personal reflection throughout the performances. 

“An introspective moment is just looking within yourself and saying, ‘How can I be better? How can I be better for myself? [For] my peers and my community?’” Stephens said. 

Following the presentation, both students and teachers were invited to a talk-back discussion with the guest speakers. 

“I would say the most beneficial part is actually what happens after the presentation … there was a 40 minute talk back session that [started] after the show … that [gave] everybody some time to unpack and digest what we all just saw and heard,”  Brown said.

In addition to the presentation shown to the intermediate and high school students, YRU also organized a wax museum celebrating significant Black historical figures for the elementary schools.

The club concludes their program with an alumni lunch hosted at the end of April.

“After [the BHM presentation] we host our alumni luncheon, which is just past alums who have attended the school and come and have lunch with our current YRU students.” Stephens said. “We let our students talk to them and get advice from them, and then we hear about their careers and their paths that they took to get there.”