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WOODLAND HILLS HIGH SCHOOL seniors Michaela Macon and Torron Best were among 90 students who toured the August Wilson Center, Feb. 15.

Woodland Hills seniors tour August Wilson Center, then learn from local elected officials

Woodland Hills High School seniors went on a field trip—one that brought Black History in front of their very eyes.

February 15 was the date, the August Wilson Center the destination. About 90 seniors hopped on a bus and rode through the Hill District, the birthplace of African American culture in Pittsburgh, and onto the August Wilson Center, Downtown. There, students met with activist and Good Peoples Group co-founder Liana Maneese, who conducted a teach-in about gentrification, redlining, and equitable housing.

SENIOR MALIQ CUNNINGHAM, with Woodland Hills social studies teacher Rhonda Green.

“Seeing August Wilson’s old house and then going to the August Wilson Center was so empowering,” said Woodland Hills senior Maya Sanders in a release. “No matter where you come from, you can make something of yourself.”

Fellow senior Emonie Campbell enjoyed the teach-in where she “not only learned about the issues (of gentrification and equitable housing), but how to act on them.”

Woodland Hills English teacher Lisa Silverman concocted the plans for the trip, after she watched the play-turned-movie, “Fences.”

SENIORS DAYNA CALLOWAY AND VICIE SIMPSON

“The importance of community is central to August Wilson’s work,” she told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “I wanted to translate that to our students by creating an opportunity for them to visit Wilson’s Hill District neighborhood and later meet with adults from their own communities.”

Silverman said there were “students on the trip who had never really left their own neighborhoods. Some had never seen Point State Park before.”

Silverman also pointed out that Woodland Hills students donated $200 to the August Wilson House Renovation.

The learning didn’t stop there. On Feb. 23 at the school, officials from Woodland Hills-area municipalities spoke with students during an Oral History event. It gave students the opportunity to learn about their own communities’ histories within the larger context of Pittsburgh: points of pride, the Woodland Hills merger, zoning laws, blight, and revitalization.

In a release, student council member and Turtle Creek resident Kevin Tinsley especially valued “the focus on rebuilding the community,” and East Pittsburgh resident Brian Lucas just “liked how everyone came together.”

The event also gave council members the opportunity to take questions from their young constituents, many of whom are already registered to vote or will be registering soon.

Churchill Council Member Diana Yankes described her interaction with the students as “uplifting.” She and Wilkins Council President Sylvia Martinelli both praised the students for their engagement and ability to ask good questions. In parting, Martinelli “encouraged them to get involved in their communities.”

 

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