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PVCICS Students Perform Civil Rights Songs at John F. Kennedy Library

April 5, 2013 - On Wednesday, April 3rd, the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School after-school chorus performed at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, for an audience of over a hundred social studies teachers. The performance was featured in “We’ll Never Turn Back: Voices of the Civil Rights Movement,” a conference which invites primary and secondary school teachers to learn about teaching the civil rights movement.

Led by PVCICS music teacher and nationally acclaimed children’s musician Sally Rogers, the chorus performed preeminent songs from the civil rights movement, including “If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus,” “Wade in the Water,” and the powerful classic “We Shall Overcome.” For educators, music is an invaluable window into a wide range of social movements and many other facets of American history. “Song was central to the success of the civil rights movement, and music unified and galvanized people to persevere with nonviolent civil disobedience,” says Rogers, who facilitated a workshop at the conference on the role of song in the civil rights movement. 

The chorus’ twenty-four students range from third through sixth grade. The students not only had the opportunity to perform at the historic John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, they also lunched with longtime civil rights activist Bernard Lafayette, a former Freedom Rider, founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and an expert on nonviolent protest and social change. Students also met Barbara Henry, the former teacher of Ruby Bridges, who was the first black student to enroll in an all-white elementary school in the American South. PVCICS principal Kathleen Wang commented, “We are immensely thankful that our students have the chance to experience firsthand the heroes of the civil rights movement, and we hope that this experience can inspire them to continue this movement’s work throughout their lives.”

PVCICS is a tuition-free regional public charter school located in Hadley, Massachusetts, which has enrolls roughly 300 students from nearly 30 communities in the Pioneer Valley. PVCICS prepares K-9th grade students for academic and cross-cultural success through rigorous study and instruction aligned with state and federal standards, augmented with Chinese language and culture.  PVCICS will be adding grades 10 through 12 until full K-12 grade span is reached in 2015. PVCICS focuses on graduating students with excellent scholarship, high proficiency in Mandarin Chinese and English, and sensitivity to multiple cultures.