PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "Because I'm from the North Philadelphia area and I'm familiar with this population of students, I wanted to come in and try to be a vehicle of change for some of them," said Donovan Hagins.
Hagins once joined the Philadelphia Young Playwrights (PYP) in 1998. As a student at Temple University, he workshopped the concepts of young city students into formidable plays fit for stage.
After graduation, he enjoyed professional work both in theater and as a guest in various television shows. But in 2019, after the passing of his father, Hagins returned to his roots and became the resident producer with PYP.
"I know that at certain ages, a lot of them don't know who they are," said Hagins about his students. "But if they can take a little bit of the experience that we bring to them to find something within themselves, that's my hope for them."
Hagins is one of the instructors who partnered with Roberto Clemente Promise Academy in North Philadelphia, where drama class is designed to elevate the confidence of students.
"I have lots of hopes for them to continue to be able to find a voice, to think of themselves as artists," said drama teacher Valerie Flower.
The writing itch seems to be rubbing off on the students in sixth grade.
"It feels pretty amazing because it feels like I'm in control," said 12-year-old Markita Butler after having written a script.
Students like Butler wrapped up the school year by presenting their own monologues, reading the works of their classmates, and enjoying a professional actor speaking out their own words.
To learn more about Philadelphia Young Playwrights and how schools in the Philadelphia area can partner with the organization, visit their website.
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