York School News

Black artists share their creativity and passion with York students

Black excellence in the arts was front and centre this week as The York School welcomed two guest speakers who use their creativity to celebrate Black cultures and the accomplishments of Black Canadians. February is Black History Month and the theme this year is “Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build.”
Middle and Senior School students were excited to welcome Adeyemi Adegbesan (also known as Yung Yemi), a multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto, to their assembly for Black History Month. Mr. Adegbesan incorporates photography and mixed media collage into Afro-futuristic portraits that appear on murals, album covers and other projects. One of his powerful murals is on the exterior of Mackenzie House Museum in Toronto. It honours Mary Ann Shadd Cary, an American-Canadian anti-slavery activist, journalist, publisher, teacher and lawyer.

Mr. Adegbesan told the students that while Black History Month has historically focused on topics like slavery, trauma and social injustice - which he says are critically important to discuss - as a Black person, he also wants to talk about joy, success and love.

Junior School students were thrilled to have a virtual conversation with Khodi Dill, a writer, educator and spoken word artist who lives in Saskatchewan. The students were spellbound as Mr. Dill read his book ‘Welcome to the Cypher.’ The cypher in the title refers to a gathering of rappers who form a circle to take turns performing freestyle rap verses.

Mr. Dill says writing rap lyrics helped him find his voice and his freedom. When he tried to find a picture book that would help his two children understand his love for rap’s rhymes and rhythm, he discovered that no one had written one. That’s why he decided to write ‘Welcome to the Cypher.’

His book was a big hit with our Junior School students. They bobbed their heads happily as he read lyrics that included:

Welcome to the cypher. Now huddle up nice and snug.
You feel that circle around you? Well that’s a hip hop hug.
Come close and feel the warmth and the music within.
Feel the zone that you enter when you really go in.
It’s a home for your voice and your heart and your spirit.
So open your mouth and let everyone hear it.

We’re grateful to Mr. Adegbesan and Mr. Dill for showing us how they use their art to celebrate Black people, foster understanding of Black cultures, and spread joy.

About the York School

The York School is a gender-inclusive JK to Grade 12 independent school located in the heart of Toronto. The York School was founded in 1965 and is the first English speaking school in Canada accredited to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) from junior kindergarten (JK) to university entrance. As an IB World School, The York School's motto is Experience Teaches.

Contact Us

Junior School (Grades JK-5) 1639 Yonge Street Toronto, Ontario M4T 2W6 
Middle School (Grades 6-8) & Senior School (Grades 9-12) 1320 Yonge Street Toronto, Ontario M4T 1X2 | Tel: 416.926.1325
Mailing address: 1320 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M4T 1X2
Junior School: 1639attendance@yorkschool.com
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