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“Stronger than COVID-19” Empowering Houston High School Seniors to Reclaim the Narrative of Their Senior Year August 21, 2020

By Maya Imani Watson
Tags: photography, art, museum, houston, mfah, students, virtual, exhibition, online, hisd, class-of-2020, covid-19

Maya Imani Watson, an art teacher at Booker T. Washington High School, sparked a wave of inspiration among graduating seniors in the Houston Independent School District through Stronger than COVID-19. This online photography exhibition gave students from 12 high schools the opportunity to take back the story of their senior year. Watson, who is the mother of a class of 2020 senior, shares her vision of the initiative and the resulting exhibition.

Changing the Narrative
As I watched my own child struggle with the realities of her senior year unfolding in such an unprecedented way, I began to think about how to change the narrative. With the help of Chandel Bonner-Hancock, HISD’s secondary visual arts curriculum specialist; Jennifer Beradino, senior manager of object-based learning at the MFAH; and HISD art teachers, we structured the project in a way that generated a creative platform for graduating seniors.

Using Art to Bridge Gaps
Art has a way of bridging cultures and communities. In the magnitude of this moment, we have seen how art can spark creative and culturally relevant conversations. We have seen families draw together, and we continue to see that we shape the reality of our world by the vision we uphold for our children, our families, and our communities.

Sharing Messages of Hope
Explore the virtual exhibition Stronger than COVID-19 to see the ways students observed and responded to the pandemic’s impact on their lives. I hope others will share their own messages of hope, family, community, and growth using the #StrongerThanCovid19 hashtag on social media.

Reflections from HISD Seniors
Janice Liang, DeBakey High School for Health Professions
Incapacitated
“… If I can take advantage of my own time, I am not as powerless as I think I am.”

Alexandra Perez, Lamar High School
Faith over Fear
“This series of photos represents my life as a senior in quarantine, stripped from softball, prom, graduation, and many other senior experiences. While in quarantine, I realized that a lot was taken for granted …”

Stronger than COVID-19: Empowering the seniors of Houston Independent School District to reclaim the narrative of their senior year.

Explore the Online Exhibition 
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Watch the Video Presentation

 


Learning and Interpretation programs receive generous funding from the Jerold B. Katz Foundation; Institute of Museum and Library Services; H-E-B; MD Anderson Cancer Center; Sharon G. Dies; Sterling-Turner Foundation; Houston Junior Woman’s Club; Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo; The Brown Foundation, Inc.; Susan Vaughan Foundation; and additional generous donors.