"I've wanted to become a famous singer and dancer
since I was three," fifth grader Jalen Hamilton-Ross
says, smiling. Right now Jalen is basking in the glow of
a successful performance of his original play. He wrote
the play as part of YPT's In-School Playwriting Program
, and on
this, the final day, he has just watched professional
actors read it aloud in front of the class.
"It's based on a rap by Bobby Simmons. When they
got to that point in the play, the actors asked me to do
it because I have the reputation of being a good rapper
and singer," Jalen says. He doesn't hesitate to do a
repeat performance, and in a moment he's on his feet,
rapping in the school library, completely at ease. The
words flow rhythmically through him as he thumps his
chest to the beat. He's having fun. To view a video of
Jalen rapping, click here.
When he's done he smiles and says, "I like that rap
because Bobby Ray's talking about kids and he says he's
an alien and he's different from other people. I feel
different ALL the time. You only have one chance to make
a first impression. I mix it up. I wear lots of colors.
Everybody else matches. I don't like being like
everyone else. I try to stand out. Being like everybody
else is BORING."
Jalen likes to draw, write, dance, rap, sing and
create his own songs. He speaks about his creativity as
if it were a superpower he's just learning to control.
"I can turn into somebody different at any time," he
says. "I can become non-Jalen. I can be
inspirational. Another side can pop out at you any
second, out of the blue." As he speaks about his
self-expression he begins to channel the same energy he
did while rapping. He has the confidence and grace of a
much older artist. He says, "A lot people say, 'Jalen,
you can't do this. Jalen you can't do that.' I say, 'How
you tell me that I can't do this if you haven't seen me
do it?'"For more Promising
Playwrights click here
Summer is always an exciting
time of transitions at YPT. As we complete
our season, we take a few moments to
reflect on all the work our students
have accomplished and how much your support has
meant to us.
But this summer is especially important, as we
prepare for our 15th birthday celebration and say
farewell to one of our YPT staffers and one of
our beloved teaching artists. Elizabeth
Andrews will leave us this month to become the new
Director of Drama at the Holton Arms School in
Bethesda. Elizabeth has inspired and
educated thousands of students during her four
years here and we will greatly miss
her. Patrick Crowley has been a teaching artist
with us for almost six years and has helped us grow and
develop our curricula to better serve students.
Patrick's moving to New York to attend graduate school
and continue his journey as an artist and educator. We
look forward to hearing great things from both of
them. At the same time, we're in the process of
adding two new staff members, including Nicole
Jost, who has worked with YPT part-time
for two years and is now joining our
full-time staff as Program Manager.
We're excited for these changes and for the new
energy of another season. As always, thank you for
your support. We'll soon be launching our 15th
Birthday season and we'll be inviting all of you to
see how far we've come and dream how far we'll go.
We'll see you at the party!
|Thank you for
another great year!
This spring, we asked you
to show your support for DC area students and help YPT
say "Yes!" to more deserving schools and students next
year, and you did not let us down.
behalf of the hundreds of students throughout our region
who will benefit from your generosity this spring, we
thank you, from the bottom of our
We could not do what we do without