Baltimore-based Rapper Lil Key sings his heart out for all 1,700 of Auburn High School’s students Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 11, during a lunchtime performance on the school’s southeast parking lot. Lil Key was one of four acts that the California-based non-profit High School Nation brought to the high school last week. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter

Baltimore-based Rapper Lil Key sings his heart out for all 1,700 of Auburn High School’s students Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 11, during a lunchtime performance on the school’s southeast parking lot. Lil Key was one of four acts that the California-based non-profit High School Nation brought to the high school last week. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter

Auburn revels in High School Nation

Music festival entertains students, part of a 40-stop tour of schools throughout the country this fall

It was already a warm September afternoon, but positive vibes carried by the music that pulsed through the kids on Auburn High School’s southeast parking lot Wednesday Sept. 11 really heated things up.

For two hours, a succession of performers, including Baltimore-based Lil Key, and Almost Monday took the stage, each putting heart, soul, mind and body into entertaining every one of the school’s 1,700 students during the lunchtime performance.

At the school’s request, the California-based nonprofit High School Nation hauled the performers in to slather the kids with positive vibes, to bulk up their self-esteem, to remind them to be creative and to believe in themselves.

“It’s a great first-week activity,” said Dave Cox, the school’s theater arts teacher and director. “In the first part of the year, we focus a lot on social contracts and getting student buy-in about how we want them to treat each other. This is just one of those ways we show them that we value their time, that we understand school can be hard, and this is a great pressure release, and it’s got great educational value.”

This is the second year High School Nation has made it to Auburn, which is only five schools in Washington state to be included on HSN’s 40-stop, nationwide tour, which headed next to Chicago

“It’s a nonprofit organization that works in coordination with many other groups, among these the Truth Initiative, which focuses on an anti-vaping, no-tobacco-use message,” said Janet Tarsi, the school’s activities director. “We know we have a problem amongst our young generation, so we wanted to educate our students about the problems with vaping. Last year, it was this wonderful lunchtime activity to build self-esteem to promote positivity and build up the kids.

“Last year, the kids did some activities where they were writing good notes about each other,” Tarsi said. “Then they said they had a bigger activity, an all-school activity, and it’s mainly focusing on the creative arts, the arts, the music, just trying to remind our kids to be creative, be true to yourself, believe in yourself. So it’s really about building up that inner strength of believing in who you are, believing in your dreams and working really hard to go for it.”

The tour, sponsored by Hollister Co., aims to support creative expression among teens through musical festivals and programming. The concert and festival on each school campus is a celebration of music and the arts.

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