Cutting through inequalities to enrich students with art
- Prize Category: Supporting Healthy Lives
- Format: Immersive performance
- Country: United States of America
- Languages: Streamed live in English with automated captions in Arabic, English, French, Filipino, Hindi, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese, Serbian, and Spanish.
- Learn more about the Top Ten Shortlisted Schools in the Supporting Healthy Lives category on the World’s Best School Prizes website.
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About the school
Curie Metropolitan High School, a secondary school in Chicago, US, helps break down barriers for disadvantaged ethnic minority students and promote healthy lives through an extensive art programme that allows them to thrive in traditionally exclusive spaces.
Based in the southside of Chicago, the area around Curie Metropolitan High School has long been deprived. Marred by poverty, gun violence and deprivation, there is pervasive sense of danger where even a walk to school can feel unsafe. Since 2019, the area has seen crime rates increase by 13% and shootings increase by 58%. The students, most of whom are from ethnic minority backgrounds, reflect the poverty and desperation that the community faces. Chicago has been reported as one of America’s most economically and racially segregated cities.
The school offers integrated health services and programmes to ensure that all pupils are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Curie is known for inclusion instruction for social and emotional learning. In its view, supporting healthy lives also includes enrichment opportunities, particularly through the arts. The school has a dedicated arts programme to tap into the talents and ambitions of its students, offering a broad range of classes such as dance, drama, animation, orchestra, choral, electronic music, art, sculpture, gorilla art, and theatre tech.
The school’s art projects are often the result of collaborations with companies and other community actors. The Dance Department recently partnered with the NBA, Chicago Bulls, and Endure Charities to perform in an event to bridge the community with dance and sports, focusing on an inclusive culture for underserved students. Students also worked with Kern Studios, an art studio in New Orleans, to build a float using a design the students came up with. Eventually, they performed in the parade on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, which was televised across the nation. Students can participate in an art club sponsored by Brighton Park Neighbourhood Council, allowing them to collectively work on community-based projects to liven up and beautify the neighbourhood. The Adidas Sound Lab gives students the opportunity to write, produce, mix, and promote their own original musical scores that are submitted and shared globally.
Join our discussion session on cutting through inequalities to enrich students with art.
Moderator: Rashada Dawan
Rashada Dawan is a South Shore native, born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. When she was 3-years-old, her mother was killed in a hit-and-run by a drunk driver. And because she was raised by her amazing father and a wonderful village of family members, she believes her mother died saving her life to make something good of it. This is why her life’s mission is simply, “Make it worth it.”
Rashada Dawan is a performer known for Chicago P.D. (2014), The Chi (2018) and Hope Springs Eternal (2018). Recent credits include: Junie B (Mariott Theatre), Djembe (Foresight Theatricals), Caroline or Change (Firebrand Theatre), Elf (Paramount Theatre), Madagascar (Lincolnshire Marriott), Nutcracker (Lincolnshire Marriott) and Disney’s The Lion King (Las Vegas & National Tour). TV/ Film Credits include: Easy (Netflix), The Red Line (CBS) and Proven Innocent (Fox). This show is dedicated to my daughters Genesis and Journey.
She was nominated for a 2016 Joseph Jefferson (Equity) Award for Actress in a Revue for “Dynamite Divas” at the Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago, Illinois.
She was nominated for a 2019 Joseph Jefferson Equity Award for Performer in a Principal Role in a Musical for “Caroline, or Change” at the Firebrand Theatre, TimeLine Theatre Company at The Den Theatre Heath Mainstage in Chicago, Illinois.
She was nominated for a 2019 Joseph Jefferson Equity Award for Performer in a Revue for “Djembo! The Show” at the Apollo Theater in Chicago, Illinois.
Rashada is head of her non-profit organization, B.Fli Productions, Inc. Her inspiration was to give her daughter and other youth in the community access to a quality arts program and access to those who wanted to pursue the craft professionally. Her daughter is now a re-occuring character, “Maisha” on Showtime’s hit series, “The Chi” and her 4-year-old daughter is a blossoming sunflower with a spirit and power all her own.
Rashada is still performing throughout the nation on stage and screen while raising her two beautiful daughters.
The recipient of numerous awards and accolades, Mr. Vilaro received the Ruth Page Award for choreography in 2001; was inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame in 2016; and was awarded HOMBRE Magazine’s 2017 Arts & Culture Trailblazer of the Year. In 2019, he received the West Side Spirit’s WESTY Award, was honored by WNET for his contributions to the arts, and was the recipient of the James W. Dodge Foreign Language Advocate Award. In August 2020, City & State Magazine included Mr. Vilaro in the inaugural Power of Diversity: Latin 100 list. In January 2021, Mr. Vilaro was recognized with a Compassionate Leaders Award, given to leaders who are courageous, contemplative, collaborative, and care about the world they will leave behind. He is a well-respected speaker on such topics as diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts, as well as on the merits of the intersectionality of cultures and the importance of nurturing and building Latinx leaders.
Speaker 1: Michael Gallagher
Mike Gallagher is a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and educator known for his recent work on Grammy nominated album with J. Ivy titled “Catching Dreams”. His commercial production work includes original works in commercials and television shows that premiered on ABC, The OWN Network and MTV2. Mike has been enlisted to tour, perform and record with many of the industry’s most notable performers. His versatility as a musician has afforded him opportunities to perform alongside numerous major recording artists within a wide spectrum of musical styles and genres. A versatile artist educated by everything from books to the Blues, Mike remains a hometown Chicago musician that performs from his heart and soul in every musical setting.
Speaker 2: Melinda Wilson
Melinda Wilson holds a M.Ed. from DePaul University and an M.A. from the University of Illinois with additional coursework at Northwestern University. She has trained at Batsheva Dance Company (Tel-Aviv), Pineapples (London), and Centre de Danse du Marias (Paris) and has been a pick-up dancer with American Ballet Theatre, David Dorfman Dance and Urban Bush Women. Awards include Top 50 Global Teacher Award, Golden Apple Award, Dance Chicago Outstanding Choreographer Award, SHAPE National Dance Teacher of the Year, first place choreographic awards from Livorno in Danza International and Barcelona Dance Grand Prix. Wilson has been featured in Tes Education Magazine (UK), Dance Magazine and various national and international webinars. She is a teacher of Ballet, and Jazz at Chicago Movement Collective, resident choreographer for Her Story Theater and Dance Director at Curie Metropolitan High School (Chicago). She is also the founder of Per4mers4Change, promoting positive active citizenship through the power of performance and youth.
Speaker 3: Jukube “Cooby” Felton
Chicago local, Jukube “Cooby” Felton, is an accredited music professor who has played in tiny smoky blues clubs to banquet halls, and theatres around the United States. His passion for music, performance and teaching is evident. “I just try to get out the way and let the music speak,” he says.
Affirming Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner Muhaul Abrams, Beegie Adair and Sly Stone were his major influences, Cooby chose a different musical path from his mentors. “During the 60s, my teacher and parents placed great emphasis on attending college,” Cooby says. “I majored in music education and when I graduated, I started a family. Because I realized being on the road was not in their best interests, I started teaching music,” he adds, “and I love it.” Cooby has worked with many artists such as Ari Brown, The Barrett Sisters, Oscar Brown Jr., Bushwick Bill, Richard Smallwood and Buster Rhymes. His mentors have been Frank Mantooth, Mwata Bowden, Willie Pickens, Muhal Richard Abrams, Jeremy Kahn, David Bloom, Ronnie Mathews, Hilton Ruiz and John Faddis.
He is currently a professor at Chicago State University and a music educator teaching Piano Lab, MIDI Lab, advanced to beginning music theory classes, advanced piano and electronic music ensembles. He and his students have received many local and national awards festivals and has created some of Chicago’s most influential electronic music ensembles.