The members of the Grand Bahama Youth Choir have returned to Grand Bahama after a successful trip to the Marvin Winans Academy for the Performing Arts (WAPA) in Detroit, Michigan.
The cultural exchange between the visiting choir and (WAPA) this week was to allow the children to see the educational opportunities that are available to them through the arts.
Dr. Randy Hayward, superintendent of the Marvin L Winans Academy School, welcomed the 34 students on Monday morning during their roll call and explained how the program works at that institution and what the children would be exposed to.
“Each child will have an opportunity to interact with the students here at the WAPA and see the technology we use as well as all of our arts being conducted from kindergarten through twelfth grade said Dr. Hayward.”
He also shared the reason why the institution was started for the children of Detroit.
“The academy opened its doors for the first time in 1997 with 288 children by Dr. Marvin Winans after winning six Grammy awards he realized that he had travelled the world through the arts. So he said that I am going to open a school where studens will have the opportunity to travel the world,” he said.
“We started with 288 and now we are up to 1,400 students and that vision of travelling the world has happened. We have gone to Paris, Italy, Germany we are planning on coming to Grand Bahama and we are working on a trip to China. But the whole premise behind this school is to give students an academic track as well as a performing arts track where they get dance, vocal, fine arts and orchestra.”
Senior class president Diamond Tigney, who has been at the Winans Academy since kindergarten, aslo shared what the students would be exposed to at that institution.
She said: “The kids will see pretty much what we do a lot of discipline, a great love for the arts as well as regular school stuff. The set up for the day begins with academics for the first two hours then we move on to performing arts during the third hour berore transitioning back into academics a lunch break then back into performing arts.”
Diamond has performed for President Obama and was featured in a song on Dr. Winans Album titled The Sinners Prayer when she was 10 years old.
The students were each partnered with a buddy who showed them around before heading off to their classes for the day.
Eighth grade students Emrick Seymour, of Bishop Michael Eldon School, and Raquel Munnings, of Sunland Baptist Academy, shared their experience at the Winans Academy.
“My experience was great, I had a chaperone who was the same age and in the same grade as me. He showed me around the school and I got to go to the various classes and see how it is at a performing arts school,” said Seymour.
Munnings added that her experience was interesting, she enjoyed meeting new friends and learning things about America.
She said, “I got the chance to observe the different classes and see the difference between a performing arts school and a normal school. She also added that in a performing arts school that there are more opportunities for students to develop their talents while learning.”
The exchange continued on Tuesday from the classroom to the stage where the students from the WAPA and the GBYC showed off their talents through song and dance. The day began with the elementary students from the Winans Academy demonstrating their vocal, music and dancing skills for their visitors from the Bahamas. The students were then treated to a taste of Bahamian culture with another grand performance that featured spiritual songs and folk songs like ‘Hold Ya Head’, West End Move along with a junkanoo drum.
The choir continued with a performance from the middle school students which was well received and who also gave the students a taste of Motown from their school jazz band.
The trip ended with the students saying goodbye to their new friends and leaving Detroit with their hearts full and deeper love and appreciation for education and the arts.
By Jenneva Russell
Freeport News Reporter