Sky Powell stood in the center of Thomson-McDuffie Middle School’s candlelit rotunda Feb. 28, dressed as a bespectacled, middle-age department store worker.
For just a moment, she was not a tiny sixth grade student at the middle school, but a black woman on a city bus in 1955 Montgomery, Ala., refusing to give up her seat.
With a brown paper shopping bag hanging from her arm and fellow students and their parents encircling her, Powell read the biography she had written about civil rights activist Rosa Parks during the school’s first Poetry Cafe.
The event was part of An Evening with Language Arts, The Performing Arts and Visual Arts, an event designed to showcase student talent and the school’s arts and language arts programs.
Language Arts nights had been held before, but this year organizers wanted to add in the fine arts.
“We just thought it would be great to put it all together,” said assistant principal Angie Roberts.
Tyjah Ivey, 14, presented a dynamic recitation of Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise.
“I think it mostly describes me because of my confidence I have in myself,” she said about why she chose to recite the poem.
Student artwork and writing hung in the foyer and the Language Arts area for guests to admire. The jazz band performed between poetry readings, and the evening was capped off with a choral performance.
A book fair was concurrently held in the media center, where Erika, 12, and Quinn McClellan, 11, and their friends Dylan Bailey, 11, and Destiny Fanning, 12, set up a game of Bingo.
The evening not only gave parents a chance to see what students are learning in language and fine arts, but it gave them a new venue for interacting with the teachers.
“You get to see administration and teachers in a light they haven’t seen before. I didn’t know Mr. (Trevor) Roberson was such a great poetry reader,” parent Sonya Strong said of the school’s deep-voiced assistant principal.