All Academic News

Theater Returns to Withrow

Last night, students at Withrow HS performed a play on the Withrow stage for the first time in over 20 years. The six act play “Bringing Back Our History” was conceived by senior Nya Williams-Jones in November of last year. Science teacher Mrs. Jody McOsker helped Nya develop the script and lead auditions. Stagecraft Instructor Mr. Zachery Riggins ‘72 mentored the stage production.

Mr. Riggins, a ’72 Withrow grad has been actively working at Withrow and with the Board of Education to bring music and theater back to the school. Withrow has a rich history of involving students in music and the theatrical arts, but tight budgets have supported only skeletal art and music programs over the last several years.

Last night’s play looked at a timeline over the last six decades of African-Americans who dreamed big, worked hard, didn’t give up, refused to be defined by their circumstances and changed the world.  Each decade was represented by a successful individual of that decade, for example, the 50’s by Barry Gordy founder of Motown Records, the 60’s by Martin Luther King, Jr., the 70’s by the Black Panthers, the 80’s by poet Maya Angelou, Opra and a rapper, the 90’s by musical entertainers represented by a performance of Destiny’s Child, and the 2000’s by Tyler Perry’s character Medea.

Prior to the play, an International Fashion Show celebrated the diverse cultural heritage of the 250 international students enrolled at Withrow. Participants in the show included Fatou Gueye, Guy Ossebi, Oury Niangane, Bintou, Luis Sanchez Gutierrez, Khadim Seck, Tirhas Bahta, Awa Coundoul, Saron Asmelash, Ndeye Seck, Sokhna Seck, Bintou Niangane and Adonette Cimpaye.

The student actors were also directed by chemistry/physics teacher Mrs. Caroline Burns, a CCM graduate. The cast includes seniors Nya Williams-Jones, Adam Kelly, Imani Brantley, Dominic Johnson, Kenneth Alexis, Pamela Printup-Brown, Angel Prince, Charity Hinton, Noah Hawes, and Darnell Crumpton-Stanford; juniors Shemar Pinnock, Teaira Martin, Shonyae Griffin, Tomika Smith and Antwnazia Fant; freshman Joshua D’aventure-Woods, and alum Juwan Carter.

Students in Mr. Riggins Stage Craft class assisting with the production include seniors Kendal Neal, Tia Roberts and Derrick Gunn and juniors Isiah Houston, Dare Moffett. The production also thanks Access Audio Productions who helped with sound equipment. In addition to last night’s performance, two other performances will be given for Withrow students today.

All reactions were enthusiastic.

Mr. Zachery Riggins: “What a joy to have the dramatic arts back at Withrow.”

Senior Imani Brantley: “I’m very honored and privileged to be a part of this play that represents the many different cultural aspects of Withrow and black history.”

Mrs. Jody McOsker: “I loved watching our students discover new talents and potential that they didn’t know they had. I love hearing them say they want do more theater.”

Senior Charity Hinton: “We’ve been working to start a theater program for three years; and this year, we were able to get the support for it. I’ve always been interested in theater and want to go on with it.”

Senior Angel Prince: “I didn’t think this was something I’d like; however I auditioned for a part in Destiny’s Child and won the part. I’ve gained more confidence, and this has been the highlight of my senior year.”

Junior Darnell Crumpton-Stanford; “I enjoyed working with fellow students in bringing theater back to Withrow. An excellent experience.”

Chemistry/Physics teacher Mrs. Caroline Burns: “I enjoyed working with students I’d taught in a different setting and time. It’s good for students to have other platforms in school to show and develop talents and abilities.”

Photos of the play may be viewed by clicking HERE.

The restoration of the musical and theater arts at Withrow is a long term effort that will require generous support from our alumni. As many of us remember, participation in music and theater was valuable to our personal development, improved our ability to work with others and fun. We ask for your support of this program. Donations may be made online by clicking HERE.or by a check made payable to “WAI” with “SOUNDS” written in the memo line. Please mail the check to Withrow Alumni Inc., P.O. Box 8186, Cincinnati, Ohio 45208. We do need, and thank you for, your support.

Benjamin Carlson-Berne Fund String Instrument Scholarship Program at Withrow

John Beasley came to Withrow at the start of the Withrow University school with a focus on creating an introductory strings instrument program.  Over the past several years the, program has seen a growth in numbers and talent of students. Today there are about 30 students in Beginner classes and 25 students in more advanced classes.  An awareness of this talent came to the attention of the Benjamin Carlson-Berne Scholarship Fund resulting in their Foundation providing individual mentoring and lessons to the top students and group lessons outside of the classroom.  One goal is to have a performance in the Withrow auditorium. Below is their recent announcement:

The Benjamin Carlson-Berne Fund Scholarship Program is excited to let everyone know about our newest project!  We are expanding into Withrow High School to give the orchestra youth there the opportunity to have top notch lessons and coaching.  See what Dr. Isi Rudnick, the Fine Arts Curriculum Manager for Cincinnati Public Schools, has to say about it:

“Expanding the Benjamin Carlson-Berne Fund Scholarship Program to Withrow University High School will offer one of the most deserving but underserved student populations in our district an important music resource. Through lessons and coaching with some of the most respected professional teacher artists in our region, Withrow students will finally have the opportunity to receive weekly musical mentoring that will profoundly impact their musical growth and maturity.”

This is a pilot project for one year. Your gift can extend our reach at Withrow even further. Let’s make this project a golden example of what quality mentoring and teaching can do.


Thank you for of your support, and the kids thank you too!

Phil Berne and Susan Carlson


In photo at left, past BCB Scholars Charles Ramsey III and Allyssa McCollum

New Withrow Leaders

The start of any school year always finds new faces roaming the halls of Withrow. Rarely, though, would one expect to witness a complete turn-over in critical leadership roles. It certainly had never happened in Withrow’s 98 year history. That is, not until the doors opened on August 16th to welcome over 1,200 students. The new Withrow leadership team of Principal John Corey, photo at left; Assistant Principals Dwayne DuBois, photo at right, Danielle Battle, and Joseph Porter; and Athletic Director Jonas Smith came together in late July and have not missed a beat.

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Lesson from beyond Withrow’s Classrooms

by ROB HINTON 71, Tower News, Spring 2017

As another school year comes to an end, students and teachers often reflect on the year that has passed. For Withrow Tigers, both present and former, this is particularly true because one of the most important lessons learned this year took place outside of the classroom.

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Withrow Class of 2017 Bridge Walk and Celebration

Today the Withrow Class of 2017 Seniors walked across the bridge to celebrate their graduation. For the first time, after the bridge walk, a celebration was held in front of the school. Food was enjoyed by graduates, proud parents and others, and music was provided by DJ Stank. A raffle was held for Seniors with the winners receiving a dormitory room starter kit or a $25 gift certificate. Donated Reds tickets were sold to fund a brick in honor of the Class of 2017, and annuals for the Class of 2017 were available for sale. The weather cooperated, and the celebration was a great addition to the bridge walk. The celebration was organized by the Withrow PTSA with helpful donations from the Withrow Alumni Assn. and others. For a short video of the Graduation Celebration, click HERE.  Unfortunately, the Facebook audio has an echo that I can’t eliminate.