Inspired by conversations about race, equity and social justice, students at Parkway Northwest High School, Kip Dubois College Academy and Plymouth White Marsh High School will release an original visual album titled “Flowers” on Wednesday. ..

The project will take place through Philly SoundExchange, a local non-profit organization where high school students in cities and suburbs collaborate on music through the lens of social justice. About 50 students from three schools worked on the project.

Mike Schaller, Founder of Philly SoundExchange, said: “The album contains a lot of visuals, lyrics and metaphors about flowers.”

The students started the project by meeting weekly at last fall’s Zoom reunion, connecting, participating in difficult conversations, and making music together. The conversation focused on identity, prejudice and systematic racism.

From these conversations, students compose a 15-minute musical journey to explore their identity, their struggles and their shared humanity. Student leader Philly SoundExchange then plans to capture visuals for music and video production.

In addition to the visual album, the three high school students also produced a seven-part web series called “Growing Flowers,” highlighting the collaborative music journey. This series was released in May.

“Part of the visual album is a lottoscopy project involving art students at the school that retraces the images in the video and essentially turns them into cartoon flowers for display throughout,” Schaller said. Declared.

“I contacted ArtWell, who runs an art program at Parkway Northwest, and currently there was no visual arts program, but there was a garden club,” he says.

“We invited gardening students to shoot a video at Morris Arboretum and asked them to explore the park because they were learning about perennials and gardening,” Schaller added. “It was a great experience and opportunity for all the students.”

For Chris Mendez, a senior at Parkway Northwest, it was initially difficult to get involved in the project due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was difficult at first because there was no physical contact, it all ended with a zoom, and the schedule was all over the place,” Mendes said. “After attending a few more sessions, I like the process and everything that is going on. “

Mendes, who wrote three songs and was in charge of producing the album, said he would like to continue the music in the future. He will attend community college in Philadelphia.

“The three songs I wrote are a mix of rap and songs,” Mendes said. “The first thing I started working on was one of my rhythms that I showed Mr. Schaller. After that, ideas started to crop up.

There is no doubt that he will continue his musical activities in the future. “” I am thinking of becoming an artistic director. Learning how to market to people will give you the best opportunity, not just for yourself. “

Jesse Mell, founder of Mad Beatz Music, said the students were proud of how the students overcame the challenges posed by the pandemic and created the project.

“We’re proud of them because they overcame obstacles and challenges to create great things,” Mel said. “They created a great project and made a statement on fairness and social and racial injustice.

“They used music to express these themes and raised awareness of how they support equity and social justice in these themes,” he added. “I’m really lucky the kids and Parkway Northwest are joining us in this wonderful collaboration.”

Founded between 2018 and 2019, the mission of Philly Sound Exchange is to provide a platform for young people of diverse social, economic and racial backgrounds to collaborate through art, race, equality, by amplifying the voices of students in social justice conversations.

“What makes Philly SoundExchange special is when city and suburban kids typically don’t have the opportunity to play with each other in sports or sit next to each other when of a scientific exhibition. It’s about providing opportunities for collaboration, ”said Schaller.

“I think they need to be able to build together so that we can make a real difference,” he added. “The fact that they have these relationships that they’ve built is amazing to me.”

Schaller said it was the power of the student’s voice that people wanted to get out of this visual album.

“We must not only listen to the students, but also give them the opportunity to hear,” said Schaller. “I want the people who listen to this album to listen to children’s voices and increase their chances of making them stronger.”

High school students release visual album on social justice | Way of life