Nazareth College and Career Prep was extremely honored to be a part of the @PittCUE #CUETalks this past Thursday, October 20th, 2016 at the University Club! Each Fall and Spring semester, the Center for Urban Education (CUE) at the University of Pittsburgh hosts a lecture series. This Fall, they brought Jeff Duncan-Andrade, acclaimed author and professor at San Francisco State University and classroom teacher in Oakland, California to give his lecture entitled Note to Educators: Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete. To read his article for which his lecture is based, click here.
His dynamic talk uses the metaphor ‘roses in concrete’ to symbolize the roses, our students, who blossom out of concrete, physical violence, racism, gentrification, poverty in the face of great wealth, patriarchy, institutional violence, and educational & eco-apartheid. He captured the attention of the 300+ attendees, including 35 of our NCCP students and 10 NCCP teachers and staff!!
Last year, I was asked to select students who could perform for the fall lecture. That’s how far in advance they are thinking about the schedule of events! This was such an honor for NCCP and our student performers, as the CUE could’ve asked any one of the hundreds of schools in the Pittsburgh area. I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before at a CUE lecture, so a song and dance were ideas that quickly emerged. Adarian is known for his great piano skills and Ariana was a quick choice after seeing her dance for the school last year as an opening act to a concert.
Our student performers chose the theme of hope for their musical selections to complement Duncan-Andrade’s lecture. Adarian Williams (11th grade) beautifully played the piano to accompany Tae-Jour Russell (11th grade) and Najjah Cobb (9th grade) as they sang the Indie Arie song, “There’s Hope”. Ariana Scott (10th grade) rocked her dance to KB’s version of “Crowns and Thorns (Oceans)”. All of the performers agreed to stay after school to practice their performances for the several weeks prior to the event. They put in several hours of practice time during and after school to perfect their performances, and perfect they were!
A huge shoutout to Ms. Chabala who also assisted us by staying after school, helping to polish the songs, and getting to the University Club early on the day of the lecture to set up and allow the students another rehearsal!
One of my favorite parts about their performances didn’t come from the performers themselves, although I loved everything about them, but it came from seeing all of their NCCP peers standing during the performances. It was as if they were saying, “We’ve got your back. We’re all in this together”, and, “They represent us”. It was very moving.
This was the second CUE fall lecture that our NCCP students have attended and both times I left feeling extremely proud to be a teacher of such exemplary young people! They represented us (NCCP) well, but most importantly, they represented themselves well! I love that so many students were excited to do something that took up an entire evening for them.