It’s not every day that you get to sing a song in front of thousands of students at a theater where some of biggest music acts in the world once performed, but that’s just what Louveda Lee, an 11th grader at Summit Olympus High School in Tacoma, did.
Louveda and other 11th graders from Summit Olympus and Summit Sierra had the exclusive opportunity to participate in the Hamilton Education Program. Along with getting to see a performance of Hamilton the Musical, the students took a course where each student created an original performance piece based on what they learned as their final project.
“When I first saw the requirement that I would have to perform in front of others it terrified me,” Louveda said. “I almost didn’t participate, but I thought not seeing Hamilton would be something I’d regret and it gave me the motivation to complete the project.”
Louveda first heard about the opportunity to participate in the program during her calculus class and was immediately interested. She then asked her AP History teacher, Carrie Crain, for more information.
“History has always been one of my most challenging classes,” Louveda said. “When I was thinking of the lyrics for my song it made reading the words in the book more fun when I put a tune to them. I was teaching myself a new way to learn.”
Louveda first performed the song for her teacher, who told her she’d submit the song, but she never thought she’d be chosen to perform.
Practicing her song in front of family and friends to prepare for performing in front of thousands of students also helped build her confidence. When the day came to perform her song she was nervous and also impressed with how great the performers before her.
“This experience taught me that while I thought I had the worst stage fright and told myself so many times that I couldn’t do it, thanks to the support of my friends and family and my own determination I was able to get through it,” Louveda said. “It felt amazing afterwards just knowing that I had been able to get over that and make everyone proud.”
Experiences like this is just an example how Summit Olympus shapes self-directed learners. Summit students are encouraged and coached by teachers to develop the different facets of self-directed learning – Challenge Seeking, Persistence, Strategy-Shifting, Response to Setbacks, and Appropriate Help Seeking.
“I think this experience forced all the students to conquer one fear or another,” said Mrs. Crain. “My goal throughout the year is to give them the skills they need to read complicated text, and write at a level that is college ready, ultimately giving them the confidence to overcome their fear.”
For many of the Olympus and Sierra students that got to see Hamilton it was more than a day in downtown Seattle, it was a learning experience they will never forget.
“The truly best part was seeing the faces of the students after,” said Mrs. Crain. “They laughed, they cried, they were in awe. At the end of the day they were able to make meaningful connections to American history and apply it to the current political climate.”