They paid tribute to the Boston Tea Party, honored “our first president, the one who made us relevant,” and traded a dizzying array of historical burns between a rapping Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.
On Wednesday, students from 15 different New York City public high schools performed raps, songs, and spoken word about United States history on the Broadway set of “Hamilton” — the same stage where Lin-Manuel Miranda made hip-hop history a smash hit.
The students’ performances, and the chance to catch a matinee viewing of the show, were part of a Google-sponsored initiative that allowed 5,000 students across New York, Chicago and San Francisco to see the musical this week. (More than 20,000 students will attend Hamilton this school year, thanks to funding from the Rockefeller Foundation.)
In order to earn a ticket, students had to complete a six-week course about American history and come up with an original piece inspired by the show.
Sitting in one of the first rows during the “Hamilton” intermission, Oluwafunmilayo Famuyiwa, a high school junior from Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences, reflected on her own song. At first, she was nervous to take the stage, she said, but once the crowd began cheering, she started having fun. Her performance zeroed in on some of the events that led to the Revolutionary War.
“They just keep on taxing us. Without even asking us,” the song went. “Guess what? That’s not fair. But the British didn’t care.”
Asked during intermission to assess the show itself, she laughed and said that despite her solid ode to the Boston Tea Party, the actual cast was “way better.”
Here are three of our favorite student pieces: