Harbor Heights Middle School has a special place in my heart, as it does in the heart of our entire Washington Heights community.
Heights is a beautiful school serving new immigrant students from Dominican Republic and other Spanish speaking countries right here in our uptown community. Founded in 2006 by the inspiring principal Monica Klehr, (whom we had the pleasure of honoring with our Community Award at our #StormThePalace event in 2015) the joy, resilience and commitment found within the children and staff of this school, is palpable.
People’s Theatre Project started almost 10 years ago thanks to our partnership at Harbor Heights Middle School, when I had the joy of working with an amazingly talented group of students at the school in collaboration with Ms. Klehr and a classroom teacher. I fell in love with the school, the staff and the students almost immediately and over the last decade this love and partnership has gotten stronger each year as we continue to become embedded into the school culture, and they into ours as an organization. I am still very close to many of my first year students, who are now in college beginning their journeys as successfull and impactful immigrant adults in our city and country. I am also so thankful that so many HH alumni have enrolled in our public programs and grown as both artists and leaders over the years, worked as apprentices and participated as members of our Youth Ensemble/Teatro Inmigrante Comunitario.
Every year Harbor Heights students impress us with their pieces and this year is no different. Working in collaboration with our staff of teaching artists over the last few months, 5 groups of powerful young immigrants have created dynamic theatrical collages around issues of Immigration Justice, Homelessness, Food Justice and Bullying. Through scenes, songs, poems and dance, these young artists and activists have spoken out about things they see and experience in their community that they want to change. They ask us questions and present poignant ideas through creative ways such as music, comedy and physical theatre. They have been working really hard for many weeks to create and polish their pieces and I am so excited to see their final performances at the United Palace on June 19th!