HEHS students score front row seats at Hamilton

U.S. history students have the opportunity to see a popular show and talk to some of the actors as well.

Rabiya Salman, Staff Writer

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Thanks​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Gilder​ ​Lehrman​ ​foundation,​ ​Hoffman Estates High School ​U.S.​ ​History​ ​students​ ​had​ ​the opportunity​ ​to​ ​see​ ​the​ ​Broadway​ ​musical,​ ​​Hamilton,​ ​​​on​ ​October​ ​19th.​ ​Gilder Lehrman​ ​paired​ ​up​ ​with​ ​​Hamilton​​ and​ ​the​ ​Rockefeller​ ​Foundation​ ​for​ ​this​ ​unique program​ ​that​ ​was​ ​offered​ ​to​ ​Title​ ​One​ ​High​ ​Schools.​

“Last​ ​Spring,​ ​in​ ​April,​ ​I​ ​ran​ ​across​ ​this​ ​opportunity​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Gilder​ ​Lehrman​ ​website​ ​and applied​ ​to​ ​participate,​ ​not​ ​thinking​ ​much​ ​of​ ​it.​ ​I​ ​came​ ​back​ ​[this​ ​Fall],​ ​and​ ​[Kevin] Mallon, head​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Social​ ​Studies​ ​Department,​ ​notified​ ​me​ ​that​ ​he​ ​got​ ​an​ ​email;​ ​it​ ​said​ ​that​ ​our application​ ​was​ ​chosen,”​ ​said​ ​William​ ​Helzer,​ ​U.S.​ ​History​ ​teacher.

Because ​​Hamilton​​ is ​on​ ​tour​ ​this 2017-2018​ ​school​ ​year,​ ​the​ ​musical​ ​was​ ​scheduled to be performed in ​large​ ​American​ ​cities,​ ​including Chicago. HEHS​ ​teachers​ ​often​ ​use​ ​Gilder​ ​Lehrman​ ​primary resources​ ​for​ ​their​ ​classes.

After​ ​being​ ​contacted​ ​by​ ​the​ ​foundation,​ ​​Helzer​ ​was​ ​informed​ ​that​ ​there​ ​were​ ​only 70​ ​tickets​ ​available​ ​and​ ​that​ ​students​ ​who​ ​wished​ ​to​ ​participate​ ​must​ ​commit​ ​to​ ​making a​ ​project.​ ​This​ ​project​ ​encouraged​ ​kids​ ​to​ ​use​ ​their​ ​creativity​ ​to​ ​make​ ​a​ ​rap,​ ​poem,​ ​or video​ ​that​ ​would​ ​be​ ​their​ ​original​ ​work​ ​based​ ​on​ ​facts ​they​ ​had​ ​learned​ ​in​ ​class about​ ​Hamilton’s​ ​role​ ​in​ ​U.S.​ ​History.​ ​This​ ​project​ ​was​ ​based​ ​on​ ​Lin-Manuel’s​ ​structure of​ ​his​ ​musical,​ ​​Hamilton,​ ​since​ ​the​ ​music​ ​in​ ​the​ ​play​ ​was​ ​rap​ ​based,​ ​as​ ​well.

“I​ ​enjoy​ ​rap​ ​and​ ​really​ ​liked​ ​doing​ ​this​ ​assignment.​ ​I​ ​got​ ​to​ ​put​ ​history​ ​into​ ​my​ ​own words,​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​focusing​ ​on​ ​the​ ​textbook’s​ ​words;​ ​this​ ​helped​ ​me​ ​understand​ ​the material​ ​better,” said Mykel Brewer, junior. “​It​ ​took​ ​me​ ​only​ ​a​ ​day​ ​to​ ​finish​ ​the​ ​project​ ​and​ ​it​ ​was​ ​really​ ​fun​ ​because I’ve​ ​never​ ​done​ ​anything​ ​like​ ​this​ ​before.”​ ​

After​ ​the​ ​projects​ ​were​ ​submitted,​ ​there was a lottery ​to​ ​choose​ ​which​ ​70​ ​kids​ ​would​ ​be able​ ​to​ ​go.​ ​The​ ​students​ ​chosen​ ​were​ ​very​ ​excited​ ​about​ ​this​ ​unique​ ​opportunity. ​They​ ​experienced​ ​even more beyond seeing the musical. ​
First,​ ​they​ ​had​ ​a​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​to​ ​five​ ​stars​ ​of​ ​the​ ​musical prior to showtime.​ ​There​ ​was​ ​a​ ​question​ ​and​ ​answer​ ​session​ ​that​ ​allowed​ ​the​ ​audience​ ​to​ ​get​ ​to know​ ​the​ ​actors.

“Listening​ ​to​ ​the​ ​women​ ​speak​ ​[beforehand]​ ​about​ ​their​ ​life​ ​experiences​ ​was​ ​very interesting,” said Helzer.​ “​When​ ​we​ ​saw​ ​them​ ​on​ ​the​ ​stage​ ​during​ ​the​ ​play,​ ​I​ ​felt​ ​like​ ​I​ ​had​ ​a connection​ ​with​ ​the​ ​stars​ ​and​ ​that​ ​they​ ​were​ ​not​ ​just​ ​some​ ​actresses​ ​in​ ​a​ ​musical.”​

Next,​ ​the​ ​HEHS​ ​students​ ​and​ ​chaperones​ ​went​ ​for​ ​lunch.​ ​Gilder​ ​Lehrman​ ​gave​ ​them​ ​a taste​ ​of​ ​history​ ​by​ ​reserving​ ​a​ ​room​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Palmer​ ​House​ ​Hilton​ ​hotel,​ ​the​ ​oldest​ ​hotel​ ​in Chicago​ ​and​ ​considered​ ​the​ ​oldest​ ​continuously​ ​operating​ ​hotel​ ​in​ ​the​ ​USA.

After​ ​lunch,​ ​they​ ​went​ ​to​ ​the​ ​auditorium.​ ​They​ ​found​ ​out​ ​the​ ​seats​ ​they​ ​would​ ​be sitting​ ​in​ ​were​​ ​front​ ​row,​ ​center​ ​stage. ​Tickets​ ​for​ ​these​ ​seats,​ ​at​ ​the​ ​time​ ​they went,​ are valued at ​$900.​ ​These​ ​seats​ ​allowed​ ​them​ ​to​ ​see​ ​everything​ ​from​ ​the details​ ​on​ ​the​ ​actors’​ ​costumes,​ ​the​ ​intense​ ​lighting​ ​making​ ​the​ ​actors​ ​sweat,​ ​and​ ​all​ ​the actors’​ ​facial ​expressions.

​“My​ ​overall​ ​experience​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Hamilton​ ​field​ ​trip​ ​was​ ​an outstanding​ ​experience​ ​because​ ​it​ ​was​ ​my​ ​first​ ​time​ ​seeing​ ​a​ ​Broadway​ ​musical,” said Hafsa​ ​Amir,​ ​junior. ​”​King​ ​George​ ​III​ ​was the​ ​best​ ​character​ ​in​ ​the​ ​show​ ​because​ ​the​ ​way​ ​he​ ​walked​ ​in​ ​and​ ​came​ ​onto​ ​the​ ​stage was​ ​hilarious.​”

There​ ​was​ ​an​ ​assignment​ ​attached​ ​to​ ​this​ ​field​ ​trip:​ ​students​ ​were​ ​asked​ ​to​ ​do​ ​a​ ​review of​ ​the​ ​musical​ ​after​ ​the​ ​trip.

“The​ ​whole​ ​[event] was​ ​great,​” said Helzer. “​In​ ​my​ ​14​ ​years​ ​of​ ​teaching,​ ​this​ ​was​ ​by​ ​far​ ​the​ ​best experience​ ​I​ have ​had.​ ​The​ ​talent​ ​on​ ​that​ ​stage​ ​was​ ​unbelievable.”​ ​​

 

Principal Josh Schumacher along with teachers Kevin Mallon, Jason Stevens, Rob Schmidt, Dia Bell, Bill Helzer, and Dave Calisch attend the performance of Hamilton.

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