Bailey Barnes, Danell Casuga, Deja Ceruti, Dapheni Hussein, and Dorian Ingram-Tavares traveled to Washington D.C. through a sponsorship by AEG, a national entertainment company who now manages the Hawaii Convention Center.
This program is a part of the "In Performance at the White House" concert series that featured a concert on the evening of March 6, that included performances by Tessanne Chin, Melissa Etheridge, Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande, Patti LaBelle, Janelle Monáe and Jill Scott, and will be broadcast on PBS stations in April.
The daytime student workshop session began with opening remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama and then included a history of the origins of soul music by GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Robert Santelli. He was joined by special musical guests, Patti LaBelle, Melissa Etheridge and Janelle Monáe, who shared their experiences, answered student questions, and gave a short performance.
NPAC director, Robin Kitsu, received a call on February 12 from a representative of AEG that they would sponsor 5 students and a chaperone to attend the GRAMMY Museum "Women of Soul" educational workshop in Washington D.C. on March 5 and 6. Kitsu was informed that NPAC was selected based on a recommendation by the Hawaii Community Foundation.
AEG sponsors a number of students from different cities who are in disadvantage communities to attend these workshops. Because AEG was relatively new to Hawaii, they approached Hawaii Community Foundation to see if any organizations would benefit from this experience. Hawaii Community Foundation recommended NPAC.
“We are very grateful to AEG for sponsoring us and giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity. Also, a big Mahalo to the Hawaii Community Foundation who recommended NPAC when AEG went to them to ask which organization would benefit from this experience,” said Kitsu.
While the students felt honored to be invited to the White House, the lessons that the presenters shared had the greatest impact on them.
Casuga said, “They all started from somewhere small and encountered challenges to be where they are today. But it was their perseverance and believing in themselves that made them successful.”
Ceruti said, “When Robert Santelli said that soul music not only affects the people listening to it but the ones who make it, I thought that can be applied to anything in life. You pursue what you want because it’s what you love instead of trying to make other people happy.”
The Nanakuli High and Intermediate School Performing Arts Center (NPAC) is a DOE Learning Center and an after school program for students in grades 4 to 12 from any school. The NPAC’s mission is to help students develop self-confidence, self-esteem, and 21st century skills (complex thinker, effective communicator, and collaborative learner) through the process of producing various dramatic and musical productions. Students learn acting, singing, dancing, stage technology, and video production skills in this program.
Each year, the NPAC produces a minimum of three major productions as well as giving over 15 various performances at schools, conferences, and state and private functions reaching an annual audience of over 6,000 people. Finally, students in NPAC also learn video production and journalistic skills in the creation of news videos, short films, and public service announcements.
The Nanakuli High and Intermediate School Performing Arts Center (NPAC) began in 1991 and has grown to a program that includes students from other school across Oahu and has produced a number of Broadway musicals, serious teen and adult issue plays, full length dramas, educational plays and videos.
YouTube video of student workshop