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Portrait series at East honors the legacy of historical figures

Portrait Series Honoring the Legacy of Historical Figures Unveiled at East

On January 9, East High School, in conjunction with the University of Rochester and the Department of African/African American Studies at the Rochester City School District, unveiled a series of panels, approximately 10 x 4 feet in size, each featuring a life-size portrait of a significant individual/leader of color.

The project, titled "The Legacy Project: The Eyes of Our Ancestors," installed 29 close-up portraits of both local and national/international leaders, all connecting to the Pan-African, Latinx, and Island/Asian Cultures that are at the heart of East’s school community. The selection of individuals featured and honored throughout this series was based on community input—from the voices of Rochester youth and their families, as leaders they deem important to the Greater Rochester community. This project will be on display in the East High School courtyard, allowing room for future growth and the addition of individuals for years to come. The artwork on display was created off-site by local artist Shawn Dunwoody.
"The Legacy Project: The Eyes of Our Ancestors" connects back to the overarching theme of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, a story that chronicles a woman who finds self-realization through trials and tribulations in her life. This common theme reinforces the legacy of historical leaders, both locally and from around the world, throughout the project. The culturally responsive project also aligns closely with the English language arts (ELA) curriculum at East, with all students having participated in a book study as part of their Family Groups that meet daily.

The University of Rochester, as the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) for East High School, has assumed full management responsibilities for East, effective July 2015. The new East ( consists of a Lower School (grades 6-8) and an Upper School (grades 9-12), and aims to prepare all students for a successful transition into adulthood. A comprehensive community school with a robust set of services to support its diverse students, East offers a strong academic and career preparation program, including a daily advisory program and a full complement of athletic and extra-curricular activities that support and engage students.