A global pandemic has not hampered Opening Nights at Florida State University’s ability to provide students impactful educational programs. The university-based performing arts presenter adjusted by offering its Opening Nights in Class programming virtually rather than in person.
“The pandemic has required us to make adjustments to our in-class educational offerings,” said Michael Blachly, Opening Nights director. “The silver lining is that through support from sponsor Centennial Bank, we’ve provided educational programming virtually, reaching more students, more schools and more special sites.”
Opening Nights in Class provided Black Violin’s virtual concert to 16,600 K-12 students, representing 46 schools from five counties in the Big Bend area. Opening Nights made a concerted effort to reach students and schools that are typically underserved, including 580 students with special needs, 22 Title I schools, eight exceptional student education programs and 10 special program sites and community centers.
“Centennial Bank is proud to sponsor the Opening Nights’ Black Violin educational program, which has reached so many students, helping them to build their self-confidence and stay positive during this pandemic,” said Kimberly Smiley, market president for Centennial Bank.
Black Violin founders Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus share their personal stories and the unlimited potential of music, emphasizing, the path to success requires commitment, practice and unwavering dedication. The hip-hop duo created the pre-recorded virtual concert with an important message to share with students — the Impossible is Possible — which is also the title of their nationally acclaimed song and recent tour.
Opening Nights in Class K-12 Resource Committee developed curricular-based educational materials to complement Black Violin’s virtual program. Teachers were able to use the resources and activities to emphasize messaging and concepts addressed in the video that also meet Florida Standards.
“In a year of no field trips and much less hands-on and interactive learning, my students were thrilled to be offered something uplifting and inspiring,” said Sally Ash, an art teacher at Woodville Elementary School. “I particularly noticed that our students with disabilities were especially inspired by the beats, music, movement and general calming effect of the concert and coloring sheet.”
Black Violin performed during Opening Nights 2019-2020 Season. Their songs address themes of perseverance, exploration and unity with titles like “Rise,” “Unbreakable,” “Believer” and “Dreamer.”