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High School Confronts Race And Privilege In Production Of Hairspray

Chion Wolf
Connecticut Public Radio
Simsbury High School students Ainsley Thompson, Shamar Sutton, and Director of Theater Stuart Younse

Sheff v. O’Neill, the landmark desegregation case in Connecticut, has shaped school systems in the greater Hartford region for decades. The state of Connecticut has announced it reached a settlement with the plaintiffs. This hour, we hear more from CT Mirror education reporter Jacqueline Rabe Thomas.

Connecticut’s Open Choice program, where students from Hartford travel to suburban schools, has been part of the state’s desegregation solution under Sheff. Simsbury High School is one of those schools.

This weekend the high school will perform the musical, Hairspray. The production has opened up an opportunity for students and the larger Simsbury community to talk about race and privilege. We hear from student members of the cast.

Information and tickets for Simsbury High School's production of Hairspray here.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Jacqueline Rabe Thomas - Reporter for the Connecticut Mirror (@jacquelinerabe)
  • Stuart Younse - Director of Theater at Simsbury High School
  • Shamar Sutton - Senior at Simsbury High School; plays Duane in the school’s production of Hairspray
  • Ainsley Thompson - Senior at Simsbury High School; plays Penny Pingleton in the school’s production of Hairspray
  • DeRon Williams - Assistant professor of theater, coordinator for the concentration directing, dramaturgy, and cultural performance.

Chion Wolf contributed to this show.

Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.
Carmen Baskauf was a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show Where We Live, hosted by Lucy Nalpathanchil from 2017-2021. She has also contributed to The Colin McEnroe Show.

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