You know what our favorite line is in “Hamilton: An American Musical?” It’s this one, from Dear Theodosia: “If we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you, and you’ll blow us all away.”
But enough about us.
This past winter, all 8th graders at East Grand Rapids Middle School had the opportunity to attend a performance of Hamilton at DeVos Hall, thanks in part to a grant from the Foundation (students had to contribute a portion of the ticket price themselves).
“I really loved watching the music soundtrack I have been listening to for years come alive on the stage,” says 8th grader Maddie Petruzzi. “My friends and I all had to bite our tongues to stop from singing along with the actors. The actors did such a good job and it was really interesting to notice changes from the original version to the version that we watched. It was also just a cool experience in general, to be able to go on a trip like that with your class and see such a cool musical with all of your friends.”
Middle school teachers Lorie and Pete Miller applied for the grant. “This was the second time that the Foundation funded the grant for 8th graders to attend the Broadway performance of Hamilton in Grand Rapids,” says Lorie Miller. “The first funding was just before Covid in February of 2020. This year, students were able to attend in February 2022.
“Students are benefitting from this grant because they are seeing history come alive before them on the stage. They are seeing what one person did to influence the foundation [there’s that word again] of the United States from Revolution through Constitution and first governing years under the Constitution.
“While we talk about this in our classes and we can show videos explaining topics, getting to see this live, in person, truly resonates with the students. Students were beyond excited to attend. This also was a great way to blend history with current. As teachers, we were able to dive deeply into these topics and weave in bits of Hamilton to help supplement the curriculum as well.
“Overall it was an amazing experience and a great opportunity for our students!”