Student Winners Attend “Hamilton” Performance

On May 8, students from around the country were treated to a performance of Hamilton: An American Musical at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City. 

Boom! With one shot, the short but extraordinary life of Alexander Hamilton ended. Hamilton, only 47, was killed by his bitter rival, Vice President Aaron Burr. Their duel took place on July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey. 

Today, Hamilton is widely celebrated as a Founding Father and the first Secretary of the United States Treasury. He was also a key strategist during the Revolutionary War against the British.

Born in Nevis, an island in the Caribbean Sea, Hamilton arrived in New York in 1772, when he was 17. The ambitious student had big dreams. Later, along with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others, Hamilton would help to create one of the most powerful governments in the world.  


Deirdre at the Richard Rodgers Theatre with student Tess Marks, who won a 2024 EduHam award.


In 2015, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda brought Hamilton’s remarkable story to the stage in Hamilton: An American Musical. The groundbreaking production has since won numerous awards and been celebrated across the globe.

In 2016, the Hamilton Education Program was created, with funding from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Rockefeller Foundation. Called “EduHam” for short, the national competition is open to students in grades 6 to 12. Participating students create an original song or scene inspired by primary sources from the Revolutionary War era. Miranda also drew upon primary sources to create his musical. 

This year, students from Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, and Kentucky were among the 20 winners. The students were rewarded with an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to see the hit musical, which is entering its ninth year on Broadway. 


Left to right: Kyle McCarron, Manny Matsudaira, their teacher Peter Vermilyea, and Tess Marks talk about EduHam and the importance of studying history.


At a May 8 matinee performance, I asked some of the award-winning students about their involvement in EduHam. Tess Marks, a junior at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, Connecticut, collaborated with two classmates on a song called “Battle of Trenton.”

The 1776 battle led to a critical victory in the war against the British. It followed Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware River. Tess said that her winning song, which starts off as a melody, becomes “a rap to demonstrate the tempo of the battle through the tempo of the song.” 

Tess’s favorite part about studying the past, she said, is recognizing that “so many others have come before us. There’s so much history all around us.”  

Another team from Tess’s school also won an award. Kyle McCarron and Manny Matsudaira penned a song called “Blessed Is He.” It describes the plight of the Shinnecock Indians during the war. The students are taught by Peter Vermilyea, chairperson of the school’s Social Studies Department. 

Manny said that he and Kyle were “ecstatic and grateful” to have won the competition. Although they knew their song was written and performed well, “the competition even within our own school suggested there was a high standard for excellence.” 

Kyle described seeing Hamilton as “an experience like nothing else.” After the performance, cast members offered encouragement to the students in the audience, which included New York City schoolchildren.

“Manifest your dreams,” said one cast member.

“You are enough,” said another. 

Finally, said one, “Never give up.”


Hamilton cast members address an audience of students after a matinee performance of the Broadway musical. 


Photos: Daniel Rader/EduHam