Middle Schoolers Celebrate the Circle of Life

Eighth grader Geicy Pena twirls and leaps during the overture to the “The Circle of Life.”

Paul Cuffee Middle School students brought to life folk traditions from nearly two dozen countries and cultures during a one-night production of The Circle of Life: Songs and Stories from Around the World on December 11. This original musical—created and directed by Robb Dimmick, with musical direction by Kim Trusty—offered tunes and tales from the Americas, Europe, the Middle and Far East, and Asia.

“These songs and stories from around the world, embraced by this wonderful ensemble of Paul Cuffee students, demonstrate how all of us are connected in an eternal circle,” Dimmick noted in the production’s program. “When each of us shares our story we widen the circle, and surprisingly the world gets smaller, not bigger.”

The Middle School cast performed a mix of traditional and newer songs, including “Lemon Tree” from Brazil and “Turn the World Around” from Guinea, as well as folktales such as the African American story “The People Could Fly” and “The Monkey and the Crocodile” from India. In addition to delighting the audience with music and stories, students performed several dances, including the Chinese Ribbon Dance.

The performance was held at the Providence Career and Technical Academy, which has also hosted the annual Wiggins production in past years. Sponsored in part by the Wiggins Society and the Frederick C. Tanner Memorial Fund, Inc., the production raised funds for the school’s Wiggins collections—books and other resources by and about African Americans. (Click here to learn more about Posy Wiggins and the Wiggins collections, and to view a trailer for Posy Wiggins, Paul Cuffee, and Justice.)

Thanks to the cast, crew, and others who helped bring this production to life:

The Players
Ariana Aytac
Mahogany Braxton
Emily Cabreja
Shelby Demanski
Dignora Espinal
Geicy Pena
Shanyescki Polanco
Delaney Rauch
Cristal Rivas
Yamil L. Rivas
Emily I. Rojas
Annica Rowe
Ayanna Rowe
Stephanie Vargas
Eliana Waldmanwerth

Middle School Chorus
Toyin Aina
Sasha Garcia
Immanuel Kivie
Chanel Cepeda
Dignora Espinal
Delaney Rauch
Nicole Berreondo
Kimberly Nieves

Artistic Team
Creator and Director: Robb Dimmick
Musical Director: Kim Trusty
Choreography: Massiel Mendez & Libertad Vargas
Paul Cuffee Chorus Directors: Massiel Mendez & Libertad Vargas
Musical Accompaniment: Cathy Clasper-Torch
Master Drummer: Sidy Maiga
Guest Artist: Chris Love
Assistant to the Director and Costumer: Luna Abréu-Santana
Production Assistant: Aimee Martinez

Production Team
Program Coordinator and Costumer: Charlayne Osborne
Program Supervisor: Catherine Edwards
Sound Specialist: Kim Trusty
Graphic Design: Pen + Pixels, LLC
Publicity: Kathleen O’Halloran
Director of Institutional Development: Maria Monteiro


Average Class Size: 20
Current Enrollment: 820
Students of Color: 96%
Female Students: 51%
Male Students: 49%
Free/Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility: 82%
Multi-Language Learners: 19%
Students Receiving Special Education Services: 13%
Total Employees: 168
BIPOC: 45%
Female Employees: 75%
Male Employees: 25%