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Hip Hop Evolution

by Stacey Linehan

One Friday in mid-November 2011 Student Bridges hosted “Hip-Hop Evolution” at Peck Full Service Middle School. Student Bridges is a student-initiated outreach program that connects UMass students with local community-based organizations and schools in the Holyoke-Springfield area.

This event’s purpose was to prepare and guide students into thinking about college and their options for college through break dance, poetry, rap, spoken word, and college positive workshops.

The College Concept fair was turned into a game; students were provided with a bingo chart that was to be filled out by all the students before they went to get their food, insuring that they visited various stations promoting education. These booths included high school and college topics and concerns such as, 8th grad transition, high school classes, college 101, where is the money, support resources in college, organizations in college, and careers.

Food was generously provided by Fernandez Family Restaurant and the long line that was waiting for the food proved its goodness. Rice, chicken, pork, plantains, and salad filled the stomachs of anxious performers and excited spectators before the show began.

The event featured performances by Peck Middle School students and college groups from the area including UMass. UMass’ Insanely Prestigious Step team got the crowd amped for following performers with their powerful routine. The team sported their high school shirts or sweatshirts in spirit of the event. Later in the night UMass’ Dance Dhadak performed a few dances and during their last dance the Bollywood vibe had the younger students next to me talking, “that’s tight” one said.

Sam Del Pilar shared his "Sneakers for Success" plan. This idea uses "sneaker culture" as a way to try and keep kids in school. As an engineering major, Pilar was able to learn a lot of what goes into sneaker design and wants to give some of that inspiration to our younger generations. Through his innovative plan, he hopes to encourage them to pursue an engineering background as a basis for sneaker design.

There were raffles during the show and prizes were given away, including two pairs of brand new sneakers further promoting “Sneakers for Success”. Other prizes included goodie bags and UMass apparel. The night ended well for both the audience and the performers and transportation was provided for those who could not get a ride to the school on their own.