Last Friday, I traveled to Connecticut with BAA theatre teacher Juanita Rodrigues and five of our theatre students for the Educational Disparity and Minority Youth symposium, presented by Quinnipiac University School of Law and Yale Law School. I was invited to speak at the conference by Marilyn Ford, a law professor at Quinnipiac, who I learned is called “Hurricane Marilyn” – for good reason! I was blown away by the convening she pulled together – panelists ranged from the co-founder of Essence Magazine to Carlotta Walls Lanier of The Little Rock Nine to athlete Marion Jones!

Our students performed a piece called “Perceptions,” dealing with race and stereotypes,  in front of the entire 1,000 person audience – in a sports arena! – and got a very positive response.

Student performers

Byron Rodriguez, Penelope Delarosa, Deaundre Price, Molly Pope, and Danielle Christian. Photo by John Hassett

Take a bow

Take a bow!

But their favorite part of the conference (and mine!) was the panel and performance by First Wave, an organization that brings together young artists from across the country to learn together in a “spoken word and hop-hop arts learning community.” They were amazing speakers and performers and exemplified a level of professionalism to which our students could aspire.

Watching First Wave performance

Mesmorized by First Wave performers

We also had the opportunity to have dinner and a tour of Yale University with Seth Bodie, a former BAA teacher and current Yale student in the design program. We were joined by two members of the Yale a cappella group “Shades,” which comes to BAA every year to perform for our music students.


BAA students and Seth Bodie with 2 members of "Shades"

We had a wonderful time- thanks again to Quinnipiac Law School, Yale Law School and Marilyn Ford for getting together so many amazing groups and speakers to discuss the educational and racial disparities that we work to address every day at BAA.