May 13, 2009 Hundreds of students from public and private schools on St. Croix now have the distinction of being published writers, photographers and musicians. The students were showcased Wednesday at the public launch of the book "A History of Me: Embracing Tradition: Creating Legacy."
"The book started as a collection of poetry at the end of 2008 to find out what makes us who we are culturally and environmentally," said Brian Kushner, a hip hop educator from New York and graduate of Country Day School here doing a six-week residency.
We started with poetry, then the picture of how youth feel on St. Croix happened, Kushner said. The project then morphed and they added a mixed media photo journal, documentary, a CD and printed photographs.
The cover is three originals of island children by local artist Betsy Campen.
I thought this publication was a great thing for kids to express themselves, said student musician Jovan Jacobs. I am glad to see so many kids took part in it.
According to organizers, more than 350 students took part and 16 schools were represented./
A couple of dozen friends, family and sponsors this week were on hand at the cafetorium of the University of the Virgin Islands St. Croix campus to hear poetry readings, view the DVD and hear live music from the CD. The 10-minute DVD, a documentary from beginning to end of the project, was shown during the launch. The big event was Tuesday afternoon when hundreds of students attended a launch party at UVI.
Wednesday Jovan Jacobs and Trevon Nelson sang a selection from the musical "Hair Spray" they had done on the CD.
This project was good for me it was my first time in a studio and on stage, Jacobs said.
Five students read poetry by their peers.
In reading each other's poetry we see we are much more alike than different, Kushner said.
In the book the poems were not titled or author made known.
My culture sounds like the soft whispers of secrets and the tinkling laughter of jokes, wrote one student.
The launch of the book moves to Twin City Coffee House on Company Street in Christiansted, where the book will be showcased during Art Walk Thursday. The book can be purchased for $20 and the CDs are $10 at Twin Cities and Women's Coalition.
Sue Diverio, director of education at Women's Coalition and sponsors of the project, said the students put a lot of effort into the effort.
I have watched them grow and develop in many aspects, said Diverio. It has been a fabulous experience.
The project was sponsored by the V.I. Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Arts, V.I. Council on Arts, Community Foundation of V.I. And Women's Coalition.
Further information on the project can be obtained by calling 773-9222.
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