The Legacy of Hillside High School

DURHAM, NC – One of North Carolina’s oldest black public high schools is celebrating its 100th anniversary and is known for its rich history and great achievements.

what you need to know

  • Hillside High School celebrates its 100th anniversary this week
  • Hillside High is continuing its legacy through its theater program’s play “State of Urgency,” which the students will hopefully perform at an off-Broadway theater in New York
  • “State of Urgency” aims to combat the gun violence that is plaguing Durham and the country

The school’s drama program is one of the outstanding activities. One student says it taught him to have a voice and speak out on controversial issues like gun violence.

The program’s students owe their success to the man behind the curtain, teacher Wendall Tabb.

High school graduate Logan Lewis co-stars in Hillside High’s play State of Urgency, about the gun violence that plagues Durham and the country. The students hope to bring this performance to an off-Broadway theater in New York.

“My mission was to portray a character and really hit the audience with emotions that no one else can,” Lewis said.

After 100 plays and 35 years as head of drama at Hillside, Tabb is retiring.

“Gave me hope that these students that I teach to this day will continue to do well because I can look back on something and say, ‘They were good when it started and they will continue to do well and I will I’m blessed,” Tabb said.

After each performance, Tabb shares with his students what they have learned, as each piece has a powerful message.

“Ask the questions about how we came to the conclusion that there must be a fatality,” Tabb said.

The State of Urgency play also aims to address black-on-black crime and tries to discourage children from making bad decisions.

“You should look at all of this and be like, ‘Wow, we really need to look at where this world is and be able to be the force that makes it a better place to live in,'” Tabb said.

Lewis knows firsthand how a play like this can make someone think twice about their actions after their best friend lost their life last year.

“I called him my brother; he died of gun violence. I’ve learned that there has to be change before our community gets worse and worse to the point of no return,” Lewis said.

Lewis says the play and his acting classes inspired him to go to college. This fall he’s attending North Carolina A&T and studying drama.

A number of events are scheduled this week for the 100thth Annual Celebration, including a Centennial Parade Saturday at 10 a.m. at NC Central University, which will end in Hillside.

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