Academy Students Keeping Our Culture Alive

In preparation for the annual St. Maarten Day celebration, St. Maarten Academy drama students were last Tuesday treated to an energetic and thrilling workshop on the importance and relevance of using theatre arts to keep our history and culture alive.

The workshop was organized by Drama teacher, Ms. Joanna Trim, who extended an invitation to Mr. Lasana Sekou in light of the students’ study of his monologues “Goin’ School” and “Great Grandmother T”. As a result of unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Sekou could not attend, but he was ably represented by renowned educator and former Minister of Education, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, and International Performing Arts guru and Director of the National Institute of the Arts, Ms. Clara Reyes.

Principal, drs. Tallulah Baly-Vanterpool warmly welcomed the guests and acquainted students with their lives and contributions to the cultural development of St. Maarten. Dr. Arrindell then introduced the students to the life and works of Mr. Sekou, but most importantly she emphasized the theme that permeates and pervades his literary works: “Love, Labour and Liberation”. She shared on his passion for writing and documenting the history of our people and our culture, but most of all his desire for us to see ourselves as a people united.

Following Dr. Arrindell’s introduction, Ms. Reyes treated students to a dynamic recitation of Sekou’s monologue “Goin School”. Furthermore, she elaborated on St. Maarten’s history, its rich folklore and most of all its relevance and influence in shaping our youth – for today and tomorrow. Ms. Reyes’ interactive, informative and entertaining delivery earned the rapt attention of students.

Many students were so enamored by the presenters that they were inspired and motivated to give their personal best as Ms. Reyes briefly engaged them in steps for the “Ponum” dance and the singing of “O Po Slave”. Dr. Arrindell also provided students with important background information which enhanced their understanding of Danny Hassell’s poem “In Salute to Our Flag”.

With this intervention, the learning experience of the Academy’s students was significantly enriched as they left with a more meaningful understanding of the rich cultural tapestry of the St. Maarten people, and the importance of the literary pieces each group will present at the school’s celebration on Friday, November 10, 2017, under the theme: “Rising Stronger, Rebuilding Better, Resilient Ever”.