Schools notebook // Whittier parent to seek School Board seat

WHITTIER — The latest candidate to announce an intention to run for a School Board seat this fall is Whittier resident and city employee Darrell Washington.

Washington works as the manager of Real Estate Development Services, a unit within the city’s Department of Community Planning and Economic Development. He has three children, including a fifth grader at Whittier International Elementary School.

Washington said he was running “to bring the perspective of a current parent” to the School Board. He plans to seek the DFL endorsement.

Washington plans to run for the District 4 seat, one of three new district seats coming open for the first time this fall. District 4 includes all of Southwest north of Lake Street, as well as parts of East Harriet, Downtown and the Harrison neighborhood just north of Bryn Mawr.

Washington said he would like the district to be “more consistent in its actions,” noting there was a general feeling among observers that the district lurched from one major initiative to another. He also emphasized the importance of expanding early childhood education.

He said, if elected, he would use the position emphasize the important role parents play in their students’ education.

“I want to tell parents, ‘Read [with] your children,’” he said.

A song for Somalia

With help from the Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee, a video of Whittier International Elementary School students singing a traditional Somali song may get a future showing in Banadir Hospital in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

Whittier music teacher Kristin Bennett said a Somali-American parent and active school volunteer taught students the short song, which is traditionally sung by Somali students at the beginning of the school day. Whittier students performed it for one of Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson’s recent Soup with the Supe community events.

A version sung by Whittier first and second grade students was recorded at the school Feb. 23.

Whittier previously held a fundraiser for the American Refugee Committee’s I Am a Star humanitarian relief campaign. After months of famine and near-famine, the latest United Nations report indicated the food crisis continued for nearly one-third of people living in southern Somalia in February.

Banadir Hospital has been one focus of the American Refugee Committee’s relief efforts in that country. The hospital has been treating the sick and hungry flooding in from the countryside, where an ongoing civil war has made it difficult for humanitarian organizations to operate.

Bennett said the American Refugee Committee planned to show the videotaped performance to children being treated at the hospital. A version will also be posted to the I Am a Star campaign’s Facebook page.

For more information, go to iamastar.org.

Viva City celebrates student artists

The Viva City fine arts festival opened in February and the 18th annual series of concerts, performances and exhibitions continues all this month.

The high school visual arts exhibition runs March 5–28 at Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall. An opening reception for the exhibition, on display in the library’s Cargill Gallery, is 5 p.m.–7 p.m. March 7.

Student jazz musicians will be joined by the St. Olaf Jazz One band for a March 14 concert at The Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Ave. S. The concert, like other musical and theater performances during Viva City’s March run, begins at 7 p.m.

Theater students perform March 15 at The Capri Theater, 2027 W. Broadway Ave., joined by a special guest, local actor and musician T. Mychael Rambo.

The March 16 MPS Fringe event, also at The Capri Theater, will feature a variety of student performances, including spoken word poetry, hip hop, short one-act plays and more. That night’s scheduled guest is local hip-hop and spoken word artist Desdemona.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Minneapolis Public Schools at 668-0000.

Reach Dylan Thomas at [email protected]