St. Mary’s has a long tradition of innovation, service, and intellectual curiosity. The Joseph Orgill III Speakers Series, made possible through a generous anonymous gift in honor of Joseph Orgill III, brings to campus thinkers and doers whose ideas challenge conventional wisdom and spark new thinking. The 2016 series focuses on storytelling.
Lives Restarted is a documentary that traces the lives of Memphis Holocaust survivors after their release from the camps and their individual journeys to find freedom in America. The film focuses on the challenges of restarting their lives, and in most cases, without speaking English, pennies in their pockets and only what they could carry in a small suitcase when they arrived in the USA. Many members of the St. Mary's' community are featured in the film: alum Michelle Goldwin's grandmother and mother, and alum Brooke Saharovici's grandparents. Susan Adler Thorp is also in the film and is the grandmother to student Ellie Royal.
The film's producer, Jerry Ehrlich, was featured as a Chapel speaker. In early September, the documentary was screened at St. Mary's and followed by a fireside chat. The discussion featured a panel including Ehrlich and director Waheed AlQawasmi.
Dr. Kofi Gbolonyo
St. Mary’s enjoyed a unique opportunity to bring a world-renowned multicultural music educator and clinician to and work with our girls. Dr. Kofi Gbolonyo, a Ghanaian musician and educator, grew up in some of the remote villages along the Ghana-Togo border in West Africa where he learned the traditional songs and dances of the Ewe and Fon people. He is now a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music (Ethnomusicology) and the Director of UBC African Ensemble at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. His primary research and educational interests are in West African music, dance, culture, and Orff-Afrique Pedagogy. His scholarly research focuses on indigenous knowledge and cultural values in the musical practices of the Ewe and Fon of West Africa.
St. Mary's students were exposed to West African drumming and culture through Dr. Gbolonyo’s presentation and his own remarkable story, and learned interactive storytelling through rhythmic movement and body percussion by learning and using basic West African drumming techniques.
Memphis artist George Hunt is nationally recognized for using his colorful art to share the cultural history of African Americans in the South. For nearly 25 years, he has created the artwork used on posters for Beale Street Music Festival. A collection of his art is currently on display in the Levy Gallery at the Buckman through the end of October. After hearing his gallery talk, St. Mary's students will paint canvases that help tell their story. Mr. Hunt will return to campus to view the girls' artwork.