'Stop the violence': Hillside HS students demand change through the arts on stage

Akilah Davis Image
Friday, February 17, 2023
Hillside HS students denounce violence through arts on stage
Hillside High School students are tackling gun violence in their community through the play "'Wendell Tabb's State of Urgency."

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Hillside High School students are tackling gun violence in their community through a production. The play, "Wendell Tabb's State of Urgency," is a riveting and heartfelt expression of how these student performers see the world they live in.

"To stop the violence and love each other and stop hurting one another," said senior student Aniya Lowe.

Student performers like Aniya Lowe enacted a strong message for the community as it's been a heavy week for her peers grappling with the loss of one of their own. There was no school Friday for Hillside students as the district wanted to give them time to restore their mental and emotional wellness.

"For the generations above us, they've done their part in the community. Now it's our turn to make that change," said student Kelyse Rayiel.

The play tackles a variety of social issues such as crime, poverty, discrimination and school shootings. There was even a tribute to the Black lives lost at the hands of law enforcement, but also a sincere salute to those who protect and serve.

In the auditorium lobby on display is the Durham memorial quilt, a somber reminder of the lives lost to gun violence in the Bull City through the years. The most recent name added is 17-year-old Anthony Feaster, the Hillside student killed in a shooting along American Tobacco Trail.

"I'm hoping it'll bring comfort to those who will come and see. It's really been an outlet for us to express ourselves and say I feel numb about this," said theatre director Tiffany Agerston.

After the play, there was a panel discussion with Durham Schools and county leadership in the hot seat. One student asked what measures are being taken to curb gun violence in schools.

"I think we're doing it. We have a well-staffed and well-funded student support services," said the administrator.