Celebration of Excellence Vivien t. thomas medical arts academy

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.

First picture second row: Ursula Dijkhoffz (Thomas' granddaughter) and Sharon Elaine Spann (Thomas' great-niece); Third picture third row: Marilyn Tucker signs the opening remarks; Bottom left: Valeria T. Spann (Thomas' niece); Bottom right: Academy Principal Stephanie Farmer

"This is a fitting time to collaborate with Spark Media to preserve and extend Dr. Thomas’ legacy of determination and excellence against all odds—the guiding philosophy of our Academy."

- Stephanie Farmer, Principal

Keenen Geter (left), Youth Engagement Specialist Mayor's Office of Human Services, welcomes students, educators and special guests to the event
It's showtime! Students watching the documentary.

Following the screening, students engaged in round table discussions with our special guests, including members of the Thomas Family, Dr. Jason Freeman from Johns Hopkins and Sibley Memorial Hospitals, Siddeeqah Fichman from the Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, journalist and author Fraser Smith, and the Director, Writer and Producer of Partners of the Heart, Andrea Kalin.

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.

"Dr. Freeman said...to do whatever makes me happy in life. You don't have to let people put you down for what you want to do."

- Ninth Grader, Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy

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.

Top center: Family and Community Engagement Liaison, James Peters, leads a tour of the Academy; Top right: Academy co-founder and college specialist, Mavis Jackson

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.

Top left: Spark Media production associate, Rachel Hawkins, setting up the display; Bottom right: Eric Smith (husband of Marcia Rasberry-Smith, Thomas' granddaugher)

We hope this year's Celebration of Excellence will be the first of many more to come. At Spark, we believe there can be no more fitting honor to commemorate Vivien T. Thomas' pioneering work than to inspire the next generation of physicians and scientists.

Members of the Thomas Family with The Aspen Institute Youth Commission representative and Academy graduate, Chris J. Harried (second from the right).
An image is worth a thousand words...a Spark is worth a thousand likes.

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.