LIMA – “Dancing and singing is what saved me,” said Dr. Vickie Shurelds, who was selected as 2021’s ‘Teacher of the Year’.
Shurelds shares her passion for performance art with seven members of Youth for Change, who left Heir Force Community School on Sunday to participate in a two-week workshop with professional artists from the Lovewell Institute of the Creative Arts at the Garden Columbus Theater. .
The students selected to participate were Adriana Donovan (14), Kyra James (14), Elisha Reddick (14) Joseph Reddick (13), Macarie Tucker (15), Isaac Grundisch (15) and DeAnna Callahan (14).
Shurelds organized participation in the program as a way to create conversations about gun violence in Lima and develop young people as future leaders and community actors.
Lovewell works with children to address issues of school violence, and through this process has created a musical called ‘The Weight of Words’, exploring the pain that words can carry. Students will learn the Lovewell method.
Vickie Shurelds explained what it is. “Communicating through the arts is universal. For me, what Lovewell does is allow children to tap into themselves… It gives them a chance to practice vocalizing what is important to them. By looking inside themselves, they can find and speak with their authentic voice. It’s a very valuable skill, not just in the classroom, but in their relationships with classmates, friends, and family. Strengthening these means we are all safer.
“They’re going to have discussions starting tomorrow morning about ‘What’s important to them?’ ‘What do they see in their community?’ “What do they think should happen to change things or make things stronger in their neighborhood and their communities. Then they’re going to collaborate with other teens, listen to those ideas and put them together, and then the most important part : they will use their own talents to communicate their thoughts with others… If you cannot communicate your thoughts to others, you will be frustrated Knowing that they have a voice and that it will be understood by others is the key … Not everyone is going to play basketball, football, golf… Lima had many who continued in the arts and did well.
“I looked at the musical as a way to express myself,” said Kyra James, referring to her previous performance in “The Weight of Words” at the Impact Center and the Civic Center. James’ talent is writing. She said it was an “honor” to be selected for the program.
“Lovewell is an international organization, established in 1989 and it is a unique musical theater workshop, where we focus on all aspects of creating an original work in musical theatre. Over the course of two weeks we sit down a group of students and ask them what they think is important to them and what they think is the untold story. Then we brainstorm ideas, start writing scenes, and then fully stage, produce, costume and choreograph an all-new musical in just two weeks,” said JJ Parkey, director of programming for the Lovewell Institute for the Creative Arts.
Parkey, originally from Ohio, moved to New York to pursue his career as an actor, singer and stage producer. A number of alumni of the program have been successful. For example, Nathan Tysen, a Broadway lyricist, was recently nominated for a Tony Award.
“The ability to create impactful art is about adapting to current events and the political climate. That’s how you create really strong leaders,” Parkey said. by influencing its audience – to help people see things from a different point of view – and from there, create change.”
Students will spend time in the program learning how to write the play, including how to create and recognize conflict between characters, Parkey said. The program is flexible, working with the unique talents the group brings. For example, in addition to creating the musical, students will sing, act, play a musical instrument, or work behind the scenes with costumes and set management.
The original work created by the students will be open to the public on July 1 and 2.
Each of the students received a scholarship to cover the cost of the program. Additional funding for transportation, food, etc. is covered by Youth for Change, which receives funding from the City of Lima and the Ohio Arts Council.
Students and their families wave goodbye in the Heir Force Community School parking lot as they pack their belongings into a two-vehicle trailer heading to Columbus. During their stay, they will take part in a creative workshop and create an original piece of music and later perform it on stage.
Contact Shannon Bohle at 567-242-0399, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Bohle_LimaNews.