Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

MSAN Students Connect Theater to Curriculum

Jan. 10, 2019 -- Members of the Monticello and Roxboro Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) recently extended their learning through two cultural arts experiences. 

On November 13, the 6th grade MSAN students visited Lorain Community College to view the play Mysteries of Ancient Egypt, hosted by Virginia Rep on Tour, a nonprofit children’s theater based in Richmond, Virginia. The show correlated nicely with the 6th grade social studies curriculum which focuses on the study of ancient civilizations. The play provided the students with an engaging opportunity to deepen their understanding of Egyptian culture by following the adventure of two children who find an ancient amulet in their neighbor’s attic and are transported to Egypt, circa 620 B.C. As the young actors unravel a mystery, students were exposed to “fascinating facts about one of the world’s most amazing cultures,” in what’s been described as a “melding of child-friendly mystery and accurate cultural exploration.”

In October, 7th and 8th grade MSAN members also saw a play, Fences by August Wilson, at Karamu House in Cleveland, one of the oldest African-American theaters in the country. Fences is known for its honest portrayal of the hardships and struggles experienced by African-Americans in 1950s Pittsburgh, a subject tackled by Wilson in many of his plays. The students found the performance and its subject matter “inspirational and moving” and felt motivated to “respect and love the people in their lives.” MSAN advisors said they were impressed with the behavior, attentiveness and maturity displayed by their students as the witnessed the harsh racial reality of Fences. 

MSAN is an extracurricular group that provides “tutoring, motivational speakers, cultural enrichment, parental support, encouragement and motivation” for minority students, under the guidance of teachers Deborah Frost, Josephine Shelton-Townes, Zakiyyah Bergen, and Debra Oden.

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