On Thursday, award-winning actor, rapper and author Will Smith returned to his alma mater to surprise students. The Philadelphia native and Overbrook High School graduate (‘86) visited students in a digital media class and took questions directly from them on a range of topics of their choice. During the visit, he also pledged to support the redesign of the fifth floor at Overbrook High School for students in the pathways of arts and entertainment industries. Students 17+ will also have the opportunity to receive tickets to his upcoming movie, Emancipation.
“As the proud Principal and class of 1989 alumni of Overbrook High School, it was an honor to have Will Smith, who is and continues to be an icon associated with Overbrook High School,” said Dr. Kahlila Johnson, principal of Overbrook High School. “Yesterday’s visit from Will was truly special and memorable for our students here at Overbrook High School. His celebrity status did not prevent him from being very genuine and authentic as he engaged in conversation with students. He shared with them the importance of learning and protecting your dreams. Students will forever remember the experience of sharing this space with Mr. Smith. We, the Overbrook High School community, are grateful to Will for his generosity and for sharing his expertise with our students.”
Overbrook’s Digital Media class is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program that introduces the art of multimedia design of video and audio/visual merged with creative elements of print design and exposes students to the industry through hands-on learning in digital content. Provided by the Office of The Arts & Creative Learning, each student in Overbook’s Digital Media class will receive a copy of Smith’s new memoir, Will.
Overbrook High School has a rich entertainment and artistic history, producing legends that include Will Smith. Throughout the years, the District has worked to connect students back to that history.
In 2021, the District launched the Mann Center for the Performing Arts’ Music Industry and Training Program (MITP) at Overbrook High School. This three-year in-school training program for students starting in tenth grade teaches different facets of the music industry – including music production, sound engineering, music business, stage lighting, video makeup, and more. Students in this program gain exposure to apprenticeship opportunities with companies in the field. In September, the District announced bringing the new 21st Century Model to Overbrook High School, which will provide students with access to Entertainment Industry programs in Digital Design, Film & Television, Music Industry and Entertainment Management, as well as industry-recognized certifications.