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WUWM's Emily Files reports on education in southeastern Wisconsin.

Milwaukee students get back to in-person field trips with 'Hamilton' master class

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Emily Files
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WUWM
Students from Riverside, Reagan, and Holy Redeemer high schools took a dance master class at the Marcus Center, taught by "Hamilton" actor Avery Sobczak.

Last week, a group of about 75 Milwaukee high schoolers took one of their first in-person field trips since the beginning of the pandemic.

The students from Riverside, Reagan and Holy Redeemer high schools visited the Marcus Center for a dance masterclass with Avery Sobczak, a cast member in the musical "Hamilton," which was touring in Milwaukee.

He taught them the choreography to one of the musical's signature songs: “My Shot.”

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Joan Marcus
The cast of the "Hamilton" National Tour, which was in Milwaukee for two weeks.

"I know — it's fast," Sobczak laughed as the students tried to keep up.

Students and teachers said they missed these types of learning experiences. Most MPS high schoolers spent the last year and a half online. This school year, they are back in-person.

"The last year and a half for me was kind of dreadful because it was the same thing day in and day out – being in my room, hardly going anywhere," said Riverside University High School senior Avery Turner. "But yeah, it feels good to actually see people and hear people so I can actually remember them, rather than seeing a blank screen and a ding on the chat."

Reagan High School theater and literature teacher Carrie Baker Jackson said her performing arts students hadn't taken a field trip since March 2020.

"It was really exciting to be able to offer this opportunity to the students," said Baker Jackson. "They're giggling, and they're laughing. And after a year of virtual teaching when every kid had their mic on mute and I felt like I was just talking into a void of nothingness, it's just really fun to hear their reactions live and in-person."

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About 75 students from three Milwaukee high schools participated in the master class with "Hamilton" actor Avery Sobczak.

The class wasn't totally back to normal though. Because of COVID precautions required of the "Hamilton" cast, Sobczak could not be in the same room as the students. He taught the class through a video connection.

"We have to keep the cast as sequestered as possible during their two weeks of 'Hamilton,'" said Marcus Center President and CEO Kendra Whitlock Ingram "We have protocols backstage – COVID testing, mask-wearing – to ensure that the cast and the crew stay healthy."

The master class is part of the ArtsConnect partnership between the Marcus Center and local schools.

"Our goal is to inspire kids," said Whitlock Ingram. "We want them to have a lifelong love of performing arts."

At the end of the class, Sobczak and the students danced a few times through to the entire "My Shot" song. Cheers from the proud students filled the ballroom as the dance ended.

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