Students put on Harlem Renaissance event

Kaitlin Clark, Entertainment Editor

The Commons area of Manhattan High was transported to the 1920s last Wednesday as several clubs joined forces to put on a Harlem Renaissance event celebrating the art, dance, writing and music of the time.

The event showcased the talents of the Manhattan High Jazz Band, led by director Nate McClendon; the Thespian troupe, who organized a poetry reading; the Black Student Union, who had an activity involving paint; and the Thespian dance troupe, who performed and taught traditional 1920s dances.

“The one thing that I think [the event] does is it actually brings us together,” McClendon said. “It’s an activity where most of the student body can be out and about and see what their peers are doing whether it’s looking at the art, listening to the music, deciding to dance with the Thespians or this year we had a poetry slam.”

The Harlem Renaissance event provided students the opportunity to learn more about a time period that included a great deal of social change.

“If you really think about the poetry and what it’s showing about the time period, we’ve come a long way,” junior Mckayla Alberto said.

The time period was honored as students from across the arts came together to showcase their talents.

“It becomes a community,” ceramics teacher and Harlem Renaissance event organizer Sara Rempel said, “and there’s a community of people working together, bringing ideas to life, and that’s when things are invented is when you have the freedom to talk, try, maybe fail, and try again.

Jazz music rang through the halls as the Manhattan High Jazz Band played, surrounding attendees with a uniquely 1920s sound.

“For our students to be able to perform in front of the student body is a huge bonus,” McClendon said. “They want to be able to perform in front of their friends and have them hear them play.”

Music and dance collided as the Thespian dance troupe taught students dances from the time period.

“I really love the music from that era,” junior Grace Franke, Thespian troupe reporter, said, “so all the jazz that’s been going on, I’ve been dancing the entire day. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Not only did the Jazz Band’s performance aid in creating a 1920s environment, it also provided members a chance to show their skills to the public.

“I liked showing our school what we do,” junior Kate Washburn said.

Student workers were kept busy as they danced and served soda in costume for their peers.

“I guess there was never really a resting moment,” junior Marlena Hummel, Thespian troupe Vice President and State Board Representative said. “We had people coming up so it kept me busy and the time passed pretty fast.”

The Harlem Renaissance event truly gave students the opportunity to discuss 1920s art and culture with their peers, focusing on a time where there was a great deal of change for the nation at large while also highlighting the talents of Manhattan High’s own arts students.

“You know, there’s no specific agenda but just enjoying…the performances that their peers have done, the artwork the music, and really just enjoy being together,” McClendon said.