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Monticello High School Play Takes On Racial Issues

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MHS students performing #WhileBlack MHS students performing #WhileBlack
MHS students performing #WhileBlack MHS students performing #WhileBlack
Kayla Scott Kayla Scott
Madeline Michel Madeline Michel
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

The drama program at Monticello High School (MHS) is receiving top honors for its recent play, #WhileBlack. The play tackles controversial issues, and has received first-place recognition from the Virginia Theater Association.

MHS student and playwright Kayla Scott says she tapped into her own experiences to demonstrate racism and gentrification in society.

"I've had personal experiences of racial profiling, whether it’s been going into stores and feeling uncomfortable when eyes are looked at me, or going into places that are predominantly white and feeling like an outcast when people do look at you," said the playwright.

Scott says she started writing #WhileBlack over the summer, amidst talks of the one-year anniversary of events that occurred on August 12, 2017.

“It gets to the point where it's too frustrating and then you just want to break down, but my way of breaking down is writing this play and getting my message across," she said.

On top of being a playwright, Scott holds down three jobs, has an internship at the University of Virginia Medical Center, and tutors other students.

"I really wasn't expecting Kayla to write a play because she's an HMSA student and she wants to be a doctor and I really didn't know that she was a playwright, and then all of a sudden she came up with this," said Madeline Michel, drama teacher at MHS.

Michel says Scott and her classmates give her hope for the future.

"Whenever I'm feeling really down about the state of the world, I come into work and these teenagers, they're the next generation and they're going to lead us into a better place," said the teacher.

While Scott is thrilled to hopefully present her play at a national stage, she's focused on educating as many people as she can.

Students will perform #WhileBlack for the community Friday, November 9, and Saturday, November 10. The play is free, but the drama program will be accepting donations to help cover the cost of the $15,000 trip to the national competition in Knoxville.