Protest Planned Outside Pittsburgh High School Theatre Award CeremonyBy Julie Grant

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh CLO’s annual Gene Kelly Awards are Saturday night at the Benedum Center. Some students from Pittsburgh Obama Academy and their parents will be protesting.

Their production of “Dreamgirls” was cancelled, so they could not be nominated for any awards. They are not protesting the Gene Kelly Awards itself, but rather the fact that the school’s cancellation of “Dreamgirls” made the students ineligible to win any of the awards.

Senior students Bryce Chisom, Margaret Walker and Chandler Searcy practiced for weeks to perform in “Dreamgirls.” They feel like an opportunity was unfairly taken away.

“They left it up to the adults to decide and they never really asked how the students would be affected by this,” Bryce Chisolm said.

gene kelly awards Senior Students Upset After School Musicals Cancellation Makes Them Ineligible For Awards

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“While we understand the canceling of the Pittsburgh Obama musical was very disappointing for those students who remained committed to the production, waning student participation in rehearsals led to too small of a cast to recreate the theatrical experience of ‘Dreamgirls.’ School leaders had no other option but to cancel the musical this year,” Pittsburgh Public Schools told KDKA.

“We’ve won Gene Kelly Awards for four years all throughout our high school career and this was going to be our year for the seniors to show out,” said Chandler Searcy.

Chandler’s mother, Maria Searcy, serves on the school’s Equity Advisory Panel and organized the protest.

“I know in this instance it was adult issues inside the school building … I’m just hoping that we raise public awareness to the social and racial injustice of this musical process,” said Searcy. “This cancellation is symptomatic of the problems that we’re having in the Pittsburgh Public School District.”

“What about future students? What if they won’t be able to do a show and show their talent to people?” Margaret Walker said.

They expect about 50 people to participate in the protest at 6:30 p.m. The ceremony will begin at 7:30 pm. They will be wearing matching t-shirts and carrying signs and fliers.