On May 24, 2017, Spark Media hosted the inaugural Celebration of Excellence at the Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. Supported by Maryland Humanities, the event introduced over 60 high school students to the inspiring story of their school's namesake, featured in Spark Media's documentary Partners of the Heart.
The sign-interpreted event included a screening of this award-winning film about the life of Vivien T. Thomas to inspire the Academy's students to pursue a future career in medicine and science.
Small groups of students enjoyed intimate conversations with each of the special guests.
Members of the Thomas' Family (from left to right: Valeria T. Spann, Eric Smith, and Marcia Rasberry-Smith) discuss Vivien's legacy with the next generation of medical professionals.
Dr. Jason Freeman offers advice to students on the steps they need to take to get to medical school.
Siddeeqah Fichman talks to the students about the Biophysics for Baltimore Teens Program at Johns Hopkins. The program offers high school students the opportunity to conduct hands-on research in the field of biophysics.
Journalist and author Fraser Smith discusses the history of the Civil Rights movement in Baltimore and how the city has changed over the decades.
Partners of the Heart Director, Writer and Producer Andrea Kalin discusses her inspiration for bringing Vivien T. Thomas' story to the big screen.
Marilyn Hatza of Maryland Humanities joins in a round table discussion with the students.
After the event, members of the Thomas Family and invited guests were given a tour of the school, which is devoted to preparing under-resourced youth for careers in science and medicine. The facility includes specially outfitted classrooms that help train students in a variety of medical professions: everything from simulated hospital wards to pharmacies to ambulances.
The final stop of the tour was the newly designed display case at the entrance of the Academy. This permanent exhibit features rare archival images of Vivien T. Thomas, newspaper clippings about the surgery he helped pioneer, behind-the-scenes photos from production of Partners of the Heart, and props and costumes from the film's recreations. This special homage to Vivien T. Thomas is now a proud feature of the Academy.