“Never in my life would I think I would be here. Stepping off the stage, it felt like a dream,” reflected Nicolas Adeleye, one of two Boston Prep seniors who performed on the iconic Hamilton stage. Nic and his classmate Arius Thomas performed an original rap – a duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, inspired by the Broadway hit Hamilton – on stage at the Boston Opera House while their classmates, thousands of students from around the state, and the Hamilton cast cheered them on.
One hundred high school students from Boston Prep earned a spot at the hottest show in town as part of the Hamilton Education Program, better known on social media as #EduHam. The program, developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, offers schools a curriculum that brings Hamilton into the classroom as a means for improving the teaching and learning of American history. The Broadway hit, authored by Lin-Manuel Miranda, tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton through rap and hip hop. The Hamilton Education Program, making stops throughout the country, brings students to the theater for a full day, including watching original performances by their peers, engaging in a Q&A session with the Hamilton cast, and enjoying a full-length performance of the hit musical.
After learning about the American Revolutionary period and the Founding Fathers in Advanced Placement U.S. History, Boston Prep students created their own original performance pieces, in the form of a song, rap, monologue, or theatrical scene. Student submissions were evaluated to determine who would be offered a spot on the highly popular field trip. The piece authored by seniors Nic Adeleye and Arius Thomas was selected for performance on stage at the Boston Opera House. The rap, set to an original beat also produced by Arius, recounts the violent opposition between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr as they battled over how to best help America take form in its nascence.
The rap begins with Alexander Hamilton, played by Nic, musing to himself.
A country that’s not a country but a bunch of states.
No centralized power. How is this the USA?
State interest over all, it just makes no sense.
Interstate relations are starting to look tense.
For a long time now I’ve stayed quiet on the fence
But I refuse to watch our infant country rule itself under unconstitutional pretense.”
Aaron Burr, played by Arius, responds by challenging Hamilton to a duel.
I challenge you to what they call
An affair of honor
No peace in this scenario
’Til one is a goner.
Both young men fought off the performance jitters to perform in front of the iconic Hamilton backdrop in front of 2,500 students from around the state. “I was just so nervous,” said Arius. “It didn’t even hit me that we were talking to some of the cast members in the back.”
Performing on stage himself was not the only powerful part of the day, though. Nic also noted that watching the live performance brought history to life. “Something about visually seeing an event, as opposed to just reading about it in a book, really changes your perspective on the event as a whole.”