ELIZABETH — When the state of New Jersey, in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Commemorative Commission, celebrated the 50th anniversary of King’s inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech on Wednesday, Aug. 28, in Trenton, Benedictine Academy students were there, on stage. Eight young women from the all-female Catholic college prep high school in Elizabeth were invited to perform at the event, at the NJ State Museum.
The students, with the direction of professional recording artist Wincey Terry-Bryant, performed a spirit-filled rendition of Bryant’s own recording, “I Remember.” The words of the song were adapted to reflect the commemoration and remembering of King’s dream for freedom.
Terry-Bryant, who has worked in music and film, prepared and rehearsed the Benedictine Academy students for weeks in advance. A 1983 alumna of the Academy, Terry-Bryant is the president/chief executive officer of Winceyco, an arts education company. In addition to the King celebration event, she is merging her skills as a singer-songwriter, vocal coach and motivational speaker to inspire the young women of BA for other upcoming performance opportunities throughout the year. Terry-Bryant is also a master teaching artist for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners of New Jersey nominated her one of the top 25 women in business. She has also earned the minority women’s business owner distinction by the New Jersey Small Business Development Center.
Terry-Bryant spent many summer days rehearsing with the Benedictine Academy students as their Martin Luther King event appearance approached. “Regarding the beautiful friendship and work with our BA sister, alumna Wincey Terry-Bryant, our students will have the honor of being the pilot school for a new joint character self-esteem formation program through the arts, to develop strong leaders and prevention against human trafficking, the second largest crime in the U.S.,” Benedictine Academy Campus Minister Linda Michalski stated. Michalski plans to have the students work with Bryant on various Campus Ministry leadership projects throughout the year to build better communities.
“Our new incoming freshmen reflected on their participation in the 50th anniversary commemoration event,” Michalski noted. “The event had a profound transformative effect on them, as well as on all of us,” Michalski added.
Ninth-grader Leily Jaquez shared,” … at first I was so scared, even just to sing my little brother to sleep. But now I come home singing. Wincey Terry showed me how to push myself. She is not only a mentor… but she changed a part of my life…(with) this amazing experience.”
Gabriella Honeywell, also a new freshman at Benedictine Academy, stated, “I have only been part of BA for (less than) a month, but the love and dedication here is amazing… Not only was the Dr. King performance an opportunity, but it was also a humbling experience… to help celebrate in the 50th anniversary of the ‘I have a Dream’ speech was breathtaking!” said Gabriella.
Terry-Bryant stated, “I’ve spent the last 25 years of my career developing assembly programs and residencies for the arts education sector of my program offerings. The arts have a disarming way of invoking change and inspiring people to greatness. I’m so proud to come home to BA where integrity and character are still the order of the day.”