It’s early Friday morning and students from the Freedom School on Concordia Ave. are greeting each other over the rumbling of a djembe drum. Staff members are playing loud, kid-friendly hip-hop music from gym speakers while little ones are eagerly expending their morning energy with some impromptu dancing, call-and-response and a little bit of reading aloud.
Wearing a white coat over a green dress and with her dark hair sweeping her shoulders, the Rev. Darcel Hill stood tall last Friday before a sea of enthusiastic children, dancing to inspirational songs in the gymnasium of Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School in St. Paul.Following various rhythmic dance movements, the nearly 400 people chanted words that embodied messages of confidence and pride:Something inside so strong / I know that I can make it / Though you’re doing me wrong so wrong / You thought that my pride was gone / Oh, no, something inside so strong / Oh, oh oh oh oh something inside so strong.This is how each weekday of the summer begins for 361 elementary-age students of St. Paul Area Council of Churches and St. Paul Promise Neighborhood Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School. The six-week SPACC/SPPN CDF Freedom School program helps minority students, primarily African-Americans, remain connected with education to thwart the learning gap students may experience when school is not in session.“Music is really important because it has a way of energizing your spirit, soul and body,” said Hill, director of SPACC/SPPN CDF Freedom School. Continue Reading