District One students participate in play honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Published 11:52 am Monday, January 24, 2011

Front, from left: Jake Gilbert and Liana Stadelmann; back, from left: Emily Brooks and Sandy McDowell. (photo submitted)

The Polk County Friendship Council and Tryon Fine Arts Center recently presented “We Are the Dream: The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.” The production was a musical celebration featuring a cast of 25 adults, teens and children from North and South Carolina and the musical talents of The Friendship Council Unity Choir, directed by Dr. Joseph Fox, with pianist Joy Gardner.

District One students Emily Brooks and Liana Stadelmann from Landrum High School and Jacob Gilbert from Chapman High School said they were excited to participate in this play.

“This has been a very eye-opening experience for me. I have read about the Civil Rights Movement, but the emotional aspect, even on this minute level, has been quite an experience.

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“In the production I played the part of a mom who will no longer allow my son to be friends with Martin. I have friends of many different races, nationalities and religions and they definitely enrich my life. I can’t imagine being told I couldn’t be friends with someone because they had a different skin color,” said Brooks.

Chapman High student Jake Gilbert portrayed the sheriff and District One parent, Sandy McDowell, portrayed both Rosa Parks and college student Vivian Jones. Landrum High School student Liana Stadelmann assisted backstage.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication that all of the actors and the support team showed,” said Marianne Carruth, education coordinator for the Tryon Fine Arts Center, “I think this was a production that not only celebrated the vision of unity that Dr. King had for the future, but also the strength of the human spirit when confronted with a desperate need for change and equality for all people.”

Dr. Ron Garner, Superintendent of Spartanburg District One Schools attended the Friday evening performance and said, “I took my young son, Colby. I think it was an outstanding production and a wonderful opportunity for a new generation of Americans, like my son, to learn about the life and legacy of Dr. King. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the performances of the actors and the choir. It brought clarity and understanding to everyone in attendance and I know it was an experience that our students who participated in the production will never forget.”