AHA! Is a monthly FREE celebration of arts & culture in downtown New Bedford.

AHA! Is a monthly FREE celebration of arts & culture in downtown New Bedford.


“HipHistoryNB” Bringing History Alive for New Bedford Middle Schoolers,
culminates in May 10 AHA! Performance

Check Out This Video Compilation From The May 10th Performance

NEW BEDFORD — Step aside Lin-Manuel Miranda: New Bedford’s history is getting the “Hamilton” treatment from group of talented city middle schoolers.

“HipHistory NB” is a newly launched youth engagement program in three New Bedford schools — Roosevelt Middle School, Nativity Preparatory School, and Global Learning Charter Public School — thanks to grants awarded to AHA!, 3rd EyE Unlimited, and the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts from MassHumanities and the New Bedford Education Foundation.

As part of the All-School Arts Festival at the New Bedford Public Schools, “HipHistory NB” students will be the featured performers on AHA! Night May 10. starting at 6 p.m. at the Paul Rodrigues Administration Building on Country Street. This is also the opening of the all-school exhibition of 3,000 pieces of student art at the building.

“We’re thrilled to be able to launch a project that will connect local students with the identity of their city and the evolving nature of civic engagement,” said AHA! Director Lee Heald. “HipHistory NB has made the public places where the stories of New Bedford are told open and available to these students who have been able to reframe the stories in their own words, and to connect kids from different schools. The May 10 performance is their amazing effort to give back to the community.”

The local students and the Third Eye team have been meeting every Thursday since January— visiting the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum, The New Bedford Historical Society, the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center, the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the New Bedford Whaling Historical Park—to find out more about their city and its history.

"It's an honor to work with the students, and help them not only realize how profound their city's history is, but also to help them find their creative voice,” said Ben Gilbarg, Project Humanist.

"The HipHistory collaboration inspired our museum docents to develop a new curriculum around civic engagement and the Quakers as related to our existing collections at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum,” said Dawn E. Salerno, Executive Director, Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum.

“The lesson plan was so successful, we plan to refine it and offer it as a regular tour for 8th grade students in New Bedford and beyond,” she said. “This new school tour will also incorporate the type of student reflection from the HipHistory program in that, students will be asked to discuss and respond in writing to their experiences at RJD.”

Sarah W. Rose, Vice President of Education and Programs at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, added: “The New Bedford Whaling Museum was delighted to participate in Hip Hop History. The program combines the dynamic history of New Bedford with the artistry of hip hop dance, which appeals to students and resulted in a wonderful keystone project.

“Hip Hop History provided an innovative, creative way for participants to express themselves while showing what they had learned. After school programs for students this age are limited, and Hip Hop History filled a much needed gap by engaging a diverse group of students in a meaningful activity,” said Rose.

A grant of $7,500 from MassHumanities and $1,000 from the New Bedford Education Foundation were awarded for the program, which has three primary goals:
• To introduce middle school students to their local history in an engaging and meaningful way.
• To give interested students the opportunity to participate in a primary research process in which they can discover information, reflect on the process, and create their own interpretations of the histories
• To connect middle school students from different school environments through a working project.

The first phase of the project included an interactive assembly program. Phase Two is a pilot after-school group. HipHistory NB culminates in public performances in local libraries and AHA! nights, which is what will happen May 10.

The project partners with local historians from the New Bedford Historical Society, the Fishing Heritage Center, New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum, and New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. These scholars connect the students with the identity of their city and the evolving nature of civic engagement.

The weekly themes include whaling as an industry, abolition and the Underground Railroad focusing on Frederick Douglass, and maritime work and fishing among others. The final project of student performances focus on how the identity of the city is reflected in the written and spoken voices of its people and how the future will be narrated by youth.


AHA! Is a monthly FREE celebration of arts & culture in downtown New Bedford.