Five students get their shot to see Hamilton on Broadway

Five St. Paul’s eighth grade students win a grand prize trip to see Hamilton on Broadway, meet the cast after participating in the Hamilton Project

VISALIA – After a St. Paul’s School history teacher brought The Hamilton Project into her curriculum, five of her students have won the grand prize trip to see the show live on Broadway.

The all inclusive trip to New York City is the first week of May. St. Paul’s students get to choose their  chaperone and will not only have the opportunity to see the show, but also have a special backstage meet and greet with the cast.

These students were chosen because of the projects they created while participating in the The Hamilton Program. The students submitted a performance of their choice voicing their knowledge of a particular historic event. Seventh and eighth grade history teacher, Neva Perrotta, brought the program to the SPS three years ago, and this is the first time her students have won the national prize.

“I just cannot say enough good things about my kiddos, they are so hardworking and creative and very deserving of the prize,” Perrotta said. “I was hoping when I sent in these videos that they would be the ones this year.”

This year students Semere ‘Sam’ Tekeste and Jack McGuire won for their rap “Winter at Valley Forge,” and Rose Longbottom, Abby Rodriguez and Grace Wiseman won for their song “The Boston Tea Party.”  The group of students and their chaperones will have their travel and accommodation in Times Square fully paid for with meal vouchers. Perrotta said of the past three years, this year she knew her students put together some quality content. She said her students created their own performance piece in its entirety and she then helps students record and submit them to the institute.

Through this program, students were engaged in meaningful and relevant learning experiences that help foster appreciation and understanding of our shared American history,” Perrotta said.

The Hamilton Project is designed to help students expand their primary source analysis skills by creating an original performance piece. Their original piece could be in the form of a poem, song, rap or dramatic scene about an event, person or document from our country’s founding. The performance of choice is done following the model Lin Manuel Miranda used to create the musical “Hamilton.” The Hamilton Online Program is part of the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s broader mission to promote the study and love of American History.

The SPS students were chosen from a pool of about 200 kids according to senior program manager Jamie Marcus. She said each year they have anywhere from 100 to 300 submissions to choose between. Each year members of the institute judge the video submissions and choose a total of 20 groups to join them in New York: ten participants based on their performances and ten more are chosen from the remaining projects that are put into a lottery. This year, there were members of the Hamilton cast on the judging board as well. For the SPS students, the “The Boston Tea Party” project was chosen for outstanding performance, and “Winter at Valley Forge” was chosen through the lottery, according to Marcus.

“It’s just really exciting to bring kids from California to New York City to see the show,” Marcus said.

The Hamilton Education Online program provides teachers with access to a wide range of resources, including engaging primary source activities and multimedia-based projects that help bring history to life for students. St. Paul’s School is a Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History affiliate school.

On Thursday, April 20 at 12:30 p.m., at St. Paul’s School, 6101 W. Goshen Ave. Visalia, will have the winning students perform at the school’s open house.

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