The Willie McAllister, Jr., Fund Supports Transformational Educational Experience

When Spain Middle School theater teacher Kathleen Wright encouraged her students to audition for the iTheatrics Summer Academy, her primary goal was to show the kids that there is a world outside of Detroit schools, and Detroit theater. “It was a learning activity, first and foremost, teaching them about the audition practice and learning about all of the opportunities that are available to them,” she recalls. “Twelve of our students auditioned and six of them were either accepted or waitlisted! This is a highly competitive program and only a few students from Michigan have ever been accepted, so it says a lot about the talent that we’re working with at Spain.”

After participating in the cross country audition of 6th – 12th graders, rising 9th grader Temple Rock and rising 8th grader A’myre McQueen were accepted, while Sarya Dixon, Malaya King, Anaya Mitchell, and London Reynolds were waitlisted. Temple and A’myre were cast to workshop and perform in a Broadway show that has been adapted for youth, and rising 7th graders Sarya Dixon and London Reynolds will be attending an Acting Intensive at the Atlantic Theater Company.

These students secured these opportunities through their own hard work and talent, but all four of them would not have been able to attend these innovative and life-changing programs were it not via full scholarships provided through the Detroit Public School Foundation’s Willie McAllister, Jr., Fund. The Foundation’s grant paid for the group’s travel, room, board, and tuition, as well as facilitated a number of enriching activities such as watching DPSCD alum Raena J. White performing in Some Like it Hot on Broadway.

“Funding this opportunity for Temple, A’myre, Sarya, and London is a perfect example of how we can partner with teachers and administrators throughout the district to support exceptional educational opportunities for our kids,” shares DPSF President and CEO Kerrie Mitchell. “We know that Detroit’s students are some of the best in the world, and we were thrilled to give these young ladies the chance to show others how brightly they can shine.”

Throughout their week in NYC, all four students worked at a professional level, rehearsing and preparing for their showcase performances on Friday, July 28th. “They have grown so much over the past week, both artistically and as people,” remarks Ms. Wright. “We’re so grateful for the support from the Foundation and The Willie McAllister, Jr., Fund. We quite literally could not have done this without them.”