Owensboro High School senior Ashton Baxter will have the chance of a lifetime on Thursday when she performs on the Tennessee Performing Arts Center stage alongside actors currently starring in the Broadway show “Hamilton.”
Baxter, 17, of Owensboro, wrote and performed a spoken word poem for her government class last semester. Because OHS is involved in the Hamilton in Education program, government teacher Lori Thurman sent a copy of the performance to organizers of the program and show. Only 10 students out of the 40 schools attending the performance Thursday were chosen, and Baxter is the only student from OHS who will perform.
“Hamilton,” the 2015 award-winning musical, tells the story of Alexander Hamilton through a nonwhite cast that uses hip-hop, soul and pop music to convey the life of the founding father. The Hamilton Education Program allows for qualifying high schools across the country to see the musical at a discounted rate.
Baxter said thinking about performing on the TPAC stage is scary.
“I’m terrified, but I can’t wait because it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” she said.
She said her teachers have been helping her rehearse by allowing her to perform the piece in front of various classes. Her piece, which is about the Boston Tea Party, is performed alongside music.
“I’m really excited about it,” she said. “There will be about 4,000 students, plus all the actors and staff.”
Baxter loves to write and was excited when she was given the assignment to create the spoken word piece.
Thurman also sent the video of Baxter performing to the national competition. If it is chosen, Baxter and Thurman will receive a paid trip to New York City to see the “Hamilton” performance on Broadway.
“Hers was so good,” Thurman said. “You could tell the passion in her performance.”
Thurman said “Hamilton” has done great things for students across the world because it makes history come alive and turns what perhaps would be considered boring to kids something engaging and entertaining. The music and the way that creator Lin-Manuel Miranda incorporated a hip-hop story into history allows more students to appreciate it.
Also, “Hamilton” teaches a great lesson about primary sources, Thurman said.
“We get into primary source documents which is so important in this day of fake media and fake news,” Thurman said. “For them to learn about original, credible sources is important.”
Bobbie Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7315.