Lift Every Voice at State High


Jacob Will

Performers of Lift Every Voice standing together to conclude the performance.

Elijah Russell, Staff Writer

Lift Every Voice is a cultural event which started last year at State College Area High School. The purpose of the event is for people of each culture to spread messages through songs, poetry, dancing, or speeches. Typically the performances involve the performers expressing themselves and their culture in an educational yet entertaining way. 

The event was free and available to all students of every grade level, being shown at two separate times throughout the school day. Although some disregard the event and just attended to get out of class, there are real messages behind each performance. Messages of cultural inequality and racial prejudice along with the impacts it has on the students of State High were among the many shared. 

State High Senior Lake Black was one of the many performers. “Lift Every Voice has presented an opportunity for students of color to express themselves and share their cultures with other students around school,” Black said.

For Black’s performance, he rapped to the song “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar. He was assisted by students Yannic Habiyaremye, Justin Castro-Dixon, and Aneaus Smith.

 “‘Alright’ is a song about unity and unifying people of color,[and] together we’re gonna be alright and make it through these hard times,” Black said, explaining the significance behind the song. 

Black and his backup dancers lit up the stage with their performance, unifying all of the students in the auditorium and having them sing the “We gon be alright” part together. 

The performances were not always flashy dances or catchy rap songs, there were also powerful speeches performed too. For example, Junior Justin Castro-Dixon and his speech “Absence of color”, or Sophomore Isabella Davis and her speech “I Hate You Eurocentricism”. Both of these speeches served as ways for those students to make their stories heard, and tell the ways that their lives may have differed from a white person’s life. 

Zaniyah Acevedo and Siehra Mansaray were the two masterminds of the whole lift every voice performance. They organized the auditions and the rehearsals and all of the other steps that led to Lift Every Voice being a success. 

“There’s so many documents, and I have to make slideshows and google forms and make sure everybody is in class, and make sure everybody is doing what they have to do, and I have to make sure I’m prepared myself,” Acevedo said.

Not only did the students work hard on preparing their own pieces for the performance, but they put months and months of dedication and practice into getting things perfect. They needed to choreograph dances, revise speeches, all for the sake of the show being as good as it possibly could.

Doing all of this and balancing school work and day-to-day lives such as jobs or extracurriculars goes to show the dedication that the students of State High had towards this program. 

“It means a space for people like me, people of color, to be free. Like the whole reason that me and Siehra wanted to do it was to get people like us a platform,” Acevedo said, “We just wanted a space where we can feel comfortable and express ourselves with each other. We’re like a family.”

The topic of race has always been a touchy subject, it’s prone to censorship in media in literature. In 2022, PEN America released a report detailing the number of books that were censored or banned during the 2021-2022 school year. The numbers revealed that over 1600 books were banned during the school year, and roughly 40% of those books featured main or secondary characters of color– which is roughly 640 books. 

With the performance giving students of color a chance to express themselves and the cultures that they came from, they play an important role in bringing equality among the students of State High.