BRADENTON — True to Rowlett Elementary’s performing arts roots, students and teachers decided to do something different to celebrate Black History Month.
As a result, the entire school was treated to a series of performances Friday, from dancing and singing to narrations.
“We wanted to showcase the contributions that African Americans made to our country,” said Principal Brian Flynn.
Student performers, mostly fourth- and fifth-graders, had three weeks to memorize their lines and steps to put it together, said Shakiera Roberson, 11, one of the performers.
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“We had no rehearsals,” said drama teacher Starloe Galletta at the beginning of the second show.
But they pulled it off. Decked out in colorful African fabrics, the performers started out with an upbeat song.
“I woke up this morning, with my mind, it was set on freedom,” they sang.
They clapped, bounced in unison on stage. Two students even rapped.
LaTronya Collins and her first-grade daughter, Deshanti, collaborated on a dance.
Some performers read quotes from famous black historical figures, capping off with President Barack Obama’s campaign battle cry “Yes, we can.”
Enunciating quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. to Maya Angelou resonated with Shakiera.
“I get to say what those people said a long time ago,” said the fifth grader. “It’s like you get to relive history.”
Getting all their lines and moves memorized and then appearing on stage can still be nerve-wracking for the performers, said Shakiera and her classmate Lacie Bunner. Especially when they have to do it in front of their peers.
“I don’t get nervous when the younger kids come,” Lacie said. “It’s the fourth- and fifth-graders.”
Second-grader Peyton Thomas, who was in the audience, appreciated her schoolmates’ hard work.
She liked the narrations and how they pulled off the show in such a short time, she said.
“They did all the work just to do it today,” she said.