Students visited the White House to celebrate the music of Ray Charles


Photo by Lexi Heard

First Lady Michelle Obama gives a speech and answers students questions at “The Musical Legacy of Ray Charles.”

By Arielle Gordon, Arts Editor

25 CHS students visited The White House Feb. 24 to attend “The Musical Legacy of Ray Charles.”

All CHS U.S. History students created posters about an influential African American figure and the students who created the best posters were invited to the program.

“The contest consisted of all the U.S. History classes, including AP, and students were instructed to design a poster about an African American who contributed to American history in a cultural, political, economic or social way between the years 1918-1948,” U.S. History teacher Nicole VanTassell said. “From the entries, the Social Studies department choose the 25 best posters.”

The students, accompanied by U.S. History teachers Amanda Marshall and VanTassell, attended “The Musical Legacy of Ray Charles,” an interactive experience sponsored by The Grammy Museum for 130 students from across the U.S., to honor Ray Charles.

According to the program’s promotional flyer, the students heard a brief speech from First Lady Michelle Obama, participated in a question and answer session moderated by Bob Santelli, the Executive Director of The Grammy Museum, and heard performances from Leon Bridges and Andrea Day.

Some of the students did not know what to expect when they were invited to the program but ultimately learned about Ray Charles’ contributions to music and were able to see Michelle Obama and Demi Lovato in person.

“Mostly, it was about Ray Charles,” freshman Lexi Heard said. “I learned he had a big impact on African Americans and changed music for the better. The coolest part of the trip was probably sitting about five feet away from Michelle Obama and Demi Lovato.”