The 2000 Black History Month Celebration at Oakwood High was
one not to be missed. The celebration is to acknowledge the leadership
and dedication of students of Afro-Canadian background across
the board. This year's show included performances by Oakwood
alumni, student produced songs, a piano selection, poetry recitals
and an excellent keynote speaker. The theme was " to remember
that we are young, black and gifted." After the show, it
was impossible to forget that.
Amanda Henry, the club's president, was the MC for the evening,
along with Jasmyn Gibbons, future pro-star. These two alone embody
the night's theme. Amanda has been on the club executive since
she was in grade 10 and as she graduates, her presence will be
greatly missed by the club. However, Jasmyn Gibbons looks like
she's ready to fill Amanda's shoes. Jasmyn was the leader of
the African dancers who performed later on in the night. Their
dress and dance symbolized what African pride is all about.
With pride in mind, it is only fitting to mention the Oakwood
alumni who performed. Kamau and Danilo performed some rhymes
that they wrote themselves. This wasn't their first time at the
celebration. These guys are vets when it comes to Oakwood performances.
When asked about the show, Kamau smiled and said " everyone
is so much younger, so many new faces. I can't feel it as much
as before, but there's definitely some talent here".
That talent Kamau was talking about was probably Neil Donaldson
and Ca-sandra McCleggon. These two produced, wrote, mixed and
performed several pieces throughout the night. Neil was a winner
of the Lorraine Hansberry Poetry contest earlier in the month.
His recital light up the room and everyone chipped in a couple
of Amen's, here and there. At the end, the up and coming
rapper, received a thunderous round of applause. What's his secret?
According to his mother, co-chair of the parent council, "Neil
spends all his free time reading the dictionary".
Ca-sandra is no stranger to the stage. This grade 11 student
has performed at the Air Canada center, and can be found singing
the national anthem everywhere. In a song that Neil and Ca-sandra
performed together, they had a very soulful chorus. That chorus
was sung by Patricia
Campbell and Marlene Witter, who, to say the least, can make
anyone cry. During the course of the night, we were treated to
cameo appearances of these three.
Stacy-Ann Buchanan was also a winner in the poetry contest.
Her recital, coupled with a play by several students, showed
the strong West-Indian roots at Oakwood. In both the recital
and play, Patwa was the language used here. It was so thick that
before the play, Amanda decided to give us a couple of vocabulary
words to help the audience understand. There was no need for
that, the body language and everyone else in the crowd going
nuts, was enough translation to let us know
when to laugh and when to 'ooooh'. Lamine Martindale threw a
spin into the show. This
talented grade 12 student performed a selection on piano. It
was quite "comical" as one parent would say, to hear
the crowd react to his piece. She said that not many people in
crowd have been to piano recitals. I beg to differ. Who needs
to go to a recital when you've got Lamine down the hall. He's
probably got the quickest moving fingers in the whole school.
Personally, having know him for years, and remember how in grade
8 during Black History Month, he would be in the main foyer before
school playing, for whoever was around, is just as
good as hearing a recital.
Backstage, the joke was "why not just call it the Ca-sandra
show". That would have been fitting. Ca-sandra, in total,
was responsible for about 5 acts. At the end of the night, she
was rewarded with a little treat by the club. There is a group
of Oakwood students that seem to be coming out into the light.
These students will be around for a couple more years. Because
of that, this new millennium looks to be a very promising one
for the club, and Oakwood.
This article originally appeared
in The Voice,
student publication at Oakwood High in Toronto, Ontario.