New Performance Poetry Project Invites Students to Engage with Alumni from First High School for African Americans in Virginia Beach

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (Sep. 30, 2020) - The Virginia Beach History Museums (VBHM) are excited to announce ImmortALL: Performance Poetry Project! This new partnership between the Princess Anne Country Training School/Union Kempsville High School Alumni and Friends Association (PACTS/UKHS), Teens with a Purpose (TWP), and VBHM pairs local African American history with the lively art of performance poetry.

Performance poetry and modern social change meet oral history and the civil rights movement in this unique program. Virginia Beach teens from age 13-19 will connect with alumni from PACTS/UKHS, as well as professional poets from TWP. In monthly online, and small in-person sessions from October 2020 through April 2021, teens will engage with PACTS/UKHS alumni from the classes of 1943-1969 , visit and view footage from the VBHM's Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Museum and attend TWP performance poetry workshops. Teens will re-interpret local oral history through the lens of their own experiences with current events.

All interested teens can register now to participate in this unique retelling of local African American history. Teens and their parents/guardians can download registration forms, and learn more about this free program at museumsvb.org or TWPTheMovement.org.

Teens in this program will:

  • Have conversations and create connections with alumni from the first high school for African Americans in Virginia Beach.
  • Visit, either in-person or virtually, the PACTS/UKHS Museum.
  • Cultivate writing and spoken word poetry skills and enhance their public performance abilities.  
  • Get to perform in a final public presentation event in Spring 2021.
The program includes:
  • Two virtual events hosted by PACTS/UKHS alumni in October.
  • Six workshops (one per month from November 2020 to April 2021).
  • The potential to perfrom at one final public performance tentatively planned for April 2021.

PATCS/UKHS alumni will begin the program with My Story, Our Story, a two-part online presentation by the alumni and historians at noon on Oct. 10 and Oct. 17. The conversations during My Story, Our Story will be the foundation from which the teens will eventually create their performance poetry. 


Once per month from November through April, teens will have an opportunity to attend TWP's limited, socially distanced performance poetry workshops (locations TBD) or attend online via simultaneous live Zoom sessions. Poetry workshops will help students explore the stories shared by alumni, as well as their own experiences. Teens will work towards a goal of immortalizing the ideals and history of the community that built PACTS/UKHS while sounding the call for further understanding, equity and social change. TWP workshops are supported in part by funding from the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission.


 "We are excited for the students who will have this opportunity with Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Museum Alumni and Teens With a Purpose," said Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Director Emily Labows. "This project will connect young people with living history and incorporate those connections into the development of their own creativity, self-expression and self-confidence."

 ImmortALL: Performance Poetry Project will tentatively conclude in spring of 2021 with a final public performance. Details and dates for each event in the series are listed below.

 ImmortALL: Performance Poetry Project includes the following events:

October 10, 2020 – 12:00pm (online only) My Story, Our Story: A Historical Perspective

Learn about the history of African American education in Princess Anne County, which is now known as Virginia Beach. This 60-90-minute online event incorporates a visual presentation, panel discussion and online Q&A session featuring local historian, author and Union Kempsville High School graduate Ms. Edna Hawkins-Hendrix, as well as independent educational consultant Dr. Joanne Lucas. This event is hosted by Dr. Sharon M. Mims and Ms. Sharae Rogers.

October 17, 2020- 12:00pm (online only) My Story, Our Story: A Roundtable Discussion

Join distinguished alumni from PACTS/UKHS for a lively discussion of their personal experiences as teens in the only African American school in Virginia Beach from 1943-1968, during the Civil Rights Movement and an era of critical social change for our local community as well as our nation. Hosted by Dr. Sharon M. Mims and Ms. Sharae Rogers, the online audience will hear from and engage with PACTS/UKHS alumni.

The following ImmortALL: Performance Poetry Workshops will be offered in a combination of limited             in-person (locations TBD) and virtual formats. Each date focuses on a different theme, poetic style/form, writing or performance technique. The virtual workshops will be available online via Zoom for unlimited attendees.

Poetry Workshop Dates:

  • November 18, 2020- 3:30 p.m.
  • December 16, 2020- 3:30 p.m.
  • January 20, 2021- 3:30 p.m.
  • February 17, 2021- 3:30 p.m.
  • March 17, 2021- 3:30 p.m.
  • April 14, 2021-3:30 p.m.

ABOUT TEENS WITH A PURPOSE

Teens With a Purpose was formed in 1996 by Deirdre Love. In 2007, Teens With a Purpose became TWP-The Youth Movement a 501(c) (3) non-profit youth development organization. The organization is celebrating over 21 years of experience in providing peer leadership training and has been recognized both regionally and nationally. Our mission is to create a platform that empowers young people to use their voice, creativity, reflection and action to affect personal growth, transform lives and impact communities.

TWP intersects youth development practices; civic engagement, peer leadership and high-quality artistic presentation creating safe inclusive spaces that challenge young people to find, develop, publicly present and apply their voices as creators of positive social change. TWP is committed to developing young leaders who positively impact their neighbors, classmates, schools, governments, congregations and one another.

ABOUT PRINCESS ANNE COUNTRY TRAINING SCHOOL/UNION KEMSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL MUSEUM

Princess Anne County Training School was the first high school for African Americans in Princess Anne County, now known as Virginia Beach. The school was a result of the African American community in the 1930s working together to raise money to build a school so their children could receive a proper education. The initial money raised was used to purchase four acres of land on Witchduck Road. The school board received the land, and $2000, but it made no attempt to build a school. As a result, in 1934, a temporary school was established on the property of Union Baptist Church. In 1938, a four-classroom high school was finally built and, between 1949 and 1962, several additions were made to the school. In 1962, the Princess Anne County Training School changed its name to Union Kempsville High School. After over 30 years of operation, Union Kempsville High School graduated its last class in 1969 due to the city-wide integration of schools. Today the legacy of the school continues with the establishment of the museum which shares stories of family, community, sacrifice, and the importance of education. The museum is located within Virginia Beach City Public Schools' Renaissance Academy.

 ABOUT THE CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH CULTURAL AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT:

The Cultural Affairs Department engages residents and visitors through meaningful arts, heritage, and cultural experiences to connect and strengthen communities. The Department assists and directs the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission, coordinates the City's Public Art Program, oversees Virginia Beach History Museums, provides contract management for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, serves as the liaison with Virginia MOCA and the ViBe Creative District, and serves as a resource to local arts and humanities organizations. 

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