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High School Students Participate New York Study Seminar, Virtually

Columbia Heights High School (CHHS) students participated in a two-day virtual New York Study Seminar. Normally, students and staff take a biennial trip to New York City, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, programs had to pivot in order to provide similar opportunities for those who would have traveled to NYC. Experiences like the Study Seminar allow students to “see, do and learn” as the District strives to make learning real for students beyond the classroom and homework.

The group’s virtual “excursions” included a virtual tour of the Tenement Museum, a “Hamilton” masterclass, a music clinic with Dr. Merriweather of Brooklyn College, an “Aladdin” dance masterclass, virtual sight-seeing and college tours. The group also had debrief/reflection sessions.

“While you can't fully replicate traveling to New York City, this virtual opportunity gave our students the chance to experience many of those New York experiences, said CHHS Choir Teacher Nick Hollerman, who spearheaded the virtual seminar. “Students were very grateful for the opportunity and had a wonderful time that was filled with learning.” 

The Broadway experiences were coordinated through Broadway Plus, an organization that specializes in creating a variety of sessions that include question and answer, live solo performances and dance masterclasses with artists from current Broadway shows. The District also used connections from VH1’s Save the Music Foundation to find NYC-based music faculty to connect with for the music clinic.

“I think every student connected with different seminars, but from my perspective as a teacher and through our reflection sessions after, the Broadway seminars were most impactful,” said Hollerman. “Students really enjoyed getting to ask the artists questions about their careers and performing. They also enjoyed the positive energy the performing artists shared and the insight they gave about being true to who they are and what makes each student unique will help them stand out.”

“I am grateful to the CHPS team who planned the Virtual New York Study Seminar for students who did not get the opportunity to travel to NYC this spring, including community organizations who donated to the cause,” said Superintendent Zena Stenvik. “We were able to bring Broadway and musical professionals to our high school students in a unique way. It was a meaningful and interactive experience for all involved.”

In lieu of travel to NYC, students received tote bags stocked with a t-shirt designed by visual arts student Tucker Stene (grade 12) specifically for the virtual trip and a few NYC souvenirs. The study seminar was aligned to District curriculum.