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Student Spotlight

Congratulations to DESA Museum Studies senior Caleb Patterson for winning the title of grand winner for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art’s I Am Beautiful! Teen Portrait Showcase/Contest!

The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art invited young people across the DMV to submit their original photographs, drawings, videos and other forms of portraiture. The I Am Beautiful! Teen Portrait Showcase/Contest coincides with the exhibit Iké Udé: Nollywood Portraits. This year’s theme is “I am Beautiful”. Teens ages 15-19 were encouraged to explore beauty in individuality.

Click here to read more!

On February 25, the Miracle Theatre hosted the annual D.C. Independent Film Forum’s 2023 High School Film Festival. The festival showcased some of the best young filmmakers in the District with over 50 submissions and 13 finalists selected to screen their films in front of Emmy Award-winning judge Anthony Anderson.

“One of the winners of the competition, DESA Cinematic Arts and Media Production student Maddy Waldman, along with peers John Monaco, Maya Ray, and Jameela Ayoub, produced a documentary titled “Kennedy Street,” an eye-opening film, despite its five-minute run time. The work delved into the massive gentrification efforts of Washington’s Kennedy Street and what it means for its residents.” Click here to read the Georgetowner’s full review.

You can catch the official D.C. Independent Film Forum from March 1- March 5 at Landmark’s E Street Cinema. Tickets, schedules, and more can be found on the DCIFF website.

Congratulations to students in the Museum Studies Department who helped make the Heros Art Project a success this month!

Brought to you by ARTHOUSE.NYC, The HERO ART PROJECT is an exhibition of multi-media portraits honoring healthcare workers from around the world who have lost their lives while fighting COVID-19 and selflessly saving the lives of thousands of their fellow citizens. Our students worked with ArtHouse.NYC and their partners as docents for the exhibition and helped guide visitors through the portraits to help tell the background story of each portrait.

The exhibition is on view until November 28 at the National Mall from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Congratulations to the following artists/scholars who recently competed against students from Jackson-Reed High School and won the city-wide Street Law DC Human Rights Act Capstone Mock Trial

Anya Barrus, Gabriella Boss, Autumn Drake, Fatou Gaye, Sidney Gayle, Patience Goines, April Kilpatrick, Cecillia Lapetini, Skylar Ogunshakin-White, Etianna Prophete, Kayla Randolph, Rosemary Sellers, and Willow Singleton. 

Street Law is an elective course taught at DESA and other D.C. public high schools. Its purpose is to introduce high school students to areas of the law, including civil rights, constitutional law, torts, housing law, family law, and other legal issues that impact their lives.

We are proud of these brilliant young people for representing our wonderful home built by Peggy Cooper Cafritz and Mike Malone. We greatly thank our Administration for making the historic decision to allow the Duke Ellington School of the Arts to formally host the Ellington/Jackson-Reed competition for the first time EVER! We just made history AGAIN!!! 

From Ms. Lynne Moore and Director Greg Watkins 

Congratulations to several of our Visual Arts students for winning the 2022 Links Incorporated Poster Competition! The following students designed and created original artwork currently on view at the Reagan National Airport. The location of the exhibit will be Reagan National Airport on the wall along the pre-check walkway between Gates A9 and B10 until Spring 2023. Click here to read more. 

Alexander Berko – “Untitled”  First place winner 
Leah Schenbaum – “Equality Through History” Third place winner Ana Gonzalez-Galvan – “Lupita” Second place winner
Taylor Banks  – “Sidney Poitier’s Time” Fourth place winnerAsiah Miller  – “Rising Horizon” Fourth place winner
Anjeleka Johnson  – “A Piece of Me (BLM)“ Fourth place winnerLavinia Aguilar  – “Untitled” Fourth place winner 
Lula Tankersley – “Pride” Fourth place winnerJacinda Tsegaye-Harshaw  – “Change Through Writing” Fourth place winner

Six of our Theatre Department students attended the British American Drama  Academy’s (BADA) Midsummer intensive program in Oxford, England this summer. BADA exists to provide high-quality, modern actor training with a foundation in British theatre traditions. Here’s what our students had to say about their experience at BADA:

Raina Taylor: “My time at BADA was transformative. Not only was I able to develop new techniques to take my art to the next level, but more importantly, I walked away from the experience with a better sense of self and confidence. BADA made me a better actor and person, coming back from the program I feel prepared and excited for my senior year.”

Autumn Whetstone: The British Academy of Dramatic Arts Midsummer Conservatory was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m very grateful to have gotten a generous Scholarship from Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation to attend BADA. The summer program was an additional training to my studies at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Exploring the depths of Williams Shakespeare’s plays and the man himself was admirable cultivation of my passion for theatre and the arts. The profane faculty and instructors were innovative, dedicated, supportive, caring, and visionary. I’m very thankful for the amazing ensemble I’ve spent 3 weeks with and will cherish the lifelong friendships that made the experience immaculate! I have strengthened my passion, technique, confidence, and spirit from this program which I will never forget. I am forever grateful to Duke Ellington’s Theatre Department, specially Kaia Calhoun for giving me this opportunity.”

N’Dea Banks-Mackey: “My time at BADA was something so surreal it felt like a dream, Because of the Andrew Lloyd Webber scholarship I was able to live my dream. I had so much fun, learned new things, applied old techniques, and made new friends. Oxford quickly became my home and the people around me became family. I wouldn’t have asked for better teachers, better people, or a better experience. I will always remember the late-night talks, being creatively goofy in the rehearsal room, going to see plays, and making new memories with the people around me. Sharing wild experiences and heartfelt moments with some of the greatest people in the world.”

Moyo Ifafore: “I am so fortunate to have received the Norman Ayrton Scholarship to attend the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer Conservatory Program. The program definitely allowed me to focus on my craft in a way that I had not done before. The program was full of immersion in the culture of The Bard, with trips to Stratford (Shakespeare’s hometown), and The Globe in London. Not only did my knowledge about Shakespeare himself deepen, but my knowledge about how to approach his text did as well. I strengthened my ensemble and devising work, as well. All this was wrapped in the rich history of Oxford, as we stayed on Campus at St. John’s college for three weeks. I am so grateful to the Theatre Department for connecting us with the BADA program.”

Sydney Downs: The Midsummer Conservatory at BADA was an extension of my training at Duke Ellington. In Oxford, I learned a lot about William Shakespeare himself, and his plays from its premise. Oxford has a unique culture and history, I had so much fun hanging out in local shops and restaurants with students and staff from all over. The faculty at BADA was very knowledgeable and supportive. They provided me with a new learning experience unlike here in the US, and lessons that will be forever useful. They also gave helpful tips for auditioning and preparing for college. Ms. Calhoun, thank you for all your support and for preparing me to compete. I also have to thank the American Theatre Wing for selecting me as a recipient of the Andrew Lloyd Training Scholarship. They made sure this experienced happened!” 

The World Languages Department is pleased to announce that three of our students received large scholarships to participate in study-abroad programs offered by the Student Diplomacy Corpse, a valued partner of our World Language Department. A big congratulations to Sofia Smith who will go to the glaciers of Canada, Ariel Wright who will explore slow food in Italy, and Dakara Reid who will travel to study in multicultural Mexico!

Jonathan Hobbs, Vocal Music junior, Jordyn Jones, Vocal Music senior and Mr. Nearing joined forces and were hired to perform Beyoncé’s “I Was Here” to kick off Teach for America’s 30th Anniversary Gala on Friday, May 6. From event organizers, “Thank you so much for your exceptional performance. The music, yourself, and your students were simply phenomenal. All of us were really glad to have you there.” Bravo Jonathan and Jordyn! You are true professionals and it was an honor and pleasure to share this experience and the stage with you both!

Five Theatre Department juniors, Moyo Ifafore, Makiela Mauney-Brooks, Ari Jackson, Sydney Downs, and Lauren Williams, will perform at the National Gallery of Art for a piece in the “Afro Atlantic Histories” exhibition on Saturday, April 30 at 1:00 p.m.

The piece, When We Gather, is a collaborative art project conceived by visionary artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons in response to Kamala Harris’s successful election to the Vice-Presidential office. The original aim of performing live on the White House grounds during the inauguration was not possible due to COVID-19. The upcoming performance will be the first time When We Gather will be performed LIVE and the first-ever performance work by an artist to be showcased at the National Gallery of Art.

During the performance, our students will sing an original song under the direction of our Director of STEAM and Arts Innovation, Mr. Greg Watkins. (Read More)

Congratulations to Vocal Music senior, Jordyn Jones for receiving her golden ticket to Hollywood and making it to the next round of auditions for American Idol!

Congratulations to Theatre students Lila Kay, Ari Jackson, Sydney Downs, Rainah Taylor, N’Dea Banks Mackey, and Autumn Whetstone for being accepted into the British America Drama Academy’s (BADA) Midsummer Conservatory program in Oxford, England! The Midsummer Conservatory Program is an intensive three-week program of Acting and Shakespeare Cultural Studies.

Two of our Vocal Music students, Ella Hinds and Christian Blair will star in Elton Jon and Tim Rice’s AIDA on Sunday, April 3, 2022, at 4:00 p.m. Based on the opera by Giuseppe Verdi, Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA is a timeless love story, featuring an award-winning pop/rock score from the seasoned pop duo who brought musical life to Disney’s The Lion King. Rousing rock numbers, heart-wrenching ballads, and inspirational choral numbers bring the ill-fated lovers into a new era.