A Tapestry Of Art, Culture And Talent
County Students Show Off Great Ability and Character At Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council Gala
By Hamil R. Harris and Raoul Dennis
Photos & Video Carol Day, Raoul Dennis and Hamil Harris
In a world filled with standardized tests and progress reports, the 2017 Arts Gala was a welcomed respite for Prince George's County Public School officials who had front seats to so much talent during an event entitled “A Cultural Tapestry: Renaissance Through the Arts.”
The April 8 event was presented by Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council in partnership with Prince George’s County Public Schools. For nearly three hours students in elementary, middle and high school from the school system’s various arts and academic programs sang, danced, played incredible jazz, performed in films at the College Park Marriott and Conference Center.
Rhonda Dallas, executive director of PGAHC, has worked for nearly seven years to bring the arts to the forefront of quality of life in Prince George’s County. “ We are mission driven in our intent to raise awareness to the value of the arts, “ said Executive Director, Rhonda Dallas. “ What better way then to celebrate our students creative achievements while galvanizing support in our efforts to connect classrooms to our phenomenal local arts community.“ A Cultural Tapestry: Renaissance Through the Arts” represented the second time the Council delivered an arts education centered night of performing and visual art.
Quoting Dr. Johnetta Cole, Dallas crystallized the spirit of the night: “ Indeed we can live without the arts but that would compromise the very art of living."
“The Arts are tremendously important, ”said PGCPS CEO Kevin Maxwell said. “It sparks creativity , it helps makes learning real, doing things, not just reading and responding to questions but being engaged in projects, but it helps people get context in the society that we live in.”
Chair of the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council Konrad Herling recognized the event as a win for the county's future. "Anyone who attended the Arts Gala could not help but be moved and truly inspired by the performances and video productions of our talented youth. It is so refreshing to have both our school system and our arts programming working together to provide better opportunities for our youth. It is truly an investment in our future."
The Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, Dr. Maxwell and dozens of community arts, business and political leaders attended the VIP-studded affair. Other notables included Dr. Charlene Dukes, President Prince George’s Community College, Dr. Wallace Loh, President, University of Maryland, Brooke Kidd of Joe’s Movement Emporium (who, along with her own dancers, rocked the stage with a hot blend of modern dance and hip-hop, b-boy styled break dance), Jane Hirshberg of The Clarice and Chanel Compton of the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center.
“What you see are students who have gone onto to do great things, whether it is in performance, visual arts or in science and math,” Baker said “Every great city, every great place, should have great architecture, great engineering, it is about having those great places and the arts are a critical part of that.”
And the show went on—every dazzling, cutting edge moment of it.
Bold performances by The Parkdale High School dancers, the Voices of Glassmanor, The Laurel Elementary School Choir, the All County High School Jazz Ensemble, the Middle School Honors Dance Ensemble and the High School Honors Dance Ensemble thoroughly electrified audiences. The 2016 Prince George’s County Public Schools Film Festival Award Winners and the Honors Theater Ensemble turned in compelling performances which were accentuated by several outstanding film offerings.
The evening included the announcements of opportunities in arts funding and the accomplishments of several students – and new professionals – as a result of talented work in the arts. Among these were twin sisters Tonisha and Eleisha McCorkle, 17, who earned over $1 million in scholarship funding for higher education.
In addition to school and political officials, Chief Master Sergeant Nathaniel M. Perry, the Command Chief Master Sergeant of the 11th Wing at Joint Base Andrews, also attended the event. “This is family, it is good to see this, watching our kids grow up when I come here.”
MH Jim Estepp, President and CEO of the Greater Prince Georges Business Roundtable, was all smiles after the event. “Tonight is perfect indication that our talent can match any talent in this country The goal of the business community is to have the number one school system in the country.”
Dallas referred to the arts and humanities as the “tapestry of community.”
“Arts education is the loom that weaves this tapestry together,” she said. Well, weave on.