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Antioch School

Headlining this year’s Antioch School Scholarship Gala — set for Saturday, April 20 — are storytellers Sam Bartlett, left, and Omopé Carter Daboiku. (Submitted photos)

Storytellers to headline Antioch School Scholarship Gala

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The Antioch School Scholarship Gala returns Saturday, April 20, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Foundry Theater at Antioch College.

Headlining this year’s event are Sam Bartlett and Omopé Carter Daboiku, each of whom will bring their distinctive brands of storytelling to the Foundry stage.

Bartlett, who hails from Bloomington, Indiana, is a composer and musician whose tunes have been featured on NPR and in Ken Burns documentaries. He’s also known for “Stuntology,” which combines story and drawings with what Bartlett’s website describes as “easy stunts” and “parlor tricks” that explore “the mysteries of the physical world with everyday objects.”

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As Antioch School Development Coordinator Chris Westhoff told the News this week, Bartlett is also an enthusiast of single-wheeled vehicles — a kind of synchronicity for the local private school, which has a history of teaching students to ride unicycles and features a unicycle as part of its logo.

“He has a long history of riding a unicycle — he rode a unicycle down the aisle,” Westhoff said.

Daboiku Carter, from Ironton, Ohio, is known to many in the village, having displayed her master storytelling craft at local events such as World House Choir concerts and Martin Luther King Jr. Day gatherings. She also served as Agraria’s first artist-in-residence, where she led a series of storytelling workshops.

Self-described as an Appalachian of mixed heritage, Carter Daboiku — also known as “Mama O” — is also an actor, performance artist, educator and author who has traveled the country and the wider world sharing her craft and her knowledge of cultural geography.

“There’s a lot of talk about telling stories as a way to market something, advertise something, sell something — but for [Carter Daboiku], storytelling is one of the traditional art disciplines, something much more developed and substantial,” Westhoff said.

Thanks to a partnership with Mad River Theater Works, Carter Daboiku and Bartlett will both have served as artist-in-residence at The Antioch School before they entertain gala guests. The residencies are supported by an Arts Partnership grant from the Ohio Arts Council, which supports grant awardees in emphasizing in-depth study of the arts.

Carter Daboiku has already completed her two-month residency at the school; Westhoff said that, because the school serves students from pre-kindergarten age through early middle school age, she worked to “meet kids where they’re at.”

“Each session was kind of different,” he said. “Her focus was really on, ‘What is storytelling? What are its cultural roots in different communities, and how do we grow as storytellers?’”

Bartlett will settle in for a week-long residency in the lead-up to the gala. Westhoff said that, in addition to Stuntology, Bartlett will likely incorporate teaching elements from his work as a “cranky” artist — that is, storytelling with illustrations that quite literally unfurl as the tale is told.

“It’s like a film without the projection,” Westhoff said. “You take a large roll of paper, and as you turn a crank, the paper unfolds and you tell the story — it’s a really theatrical way of storytelling.”

A private institution that has served students in Yellow Springs and the Miami Valley since 1921, The Antioch School was founded by Arthur Morgan, with an approach to education centered on ensuring that students have the agency to explore learning on their own terms under the guidance of their teachers.

School Manager Nathan Summers said the school wants to ensure that its educational approach is open to any and all who might benefit from it. With that in mind, he said, more than half of Antioch School students receive scholarships to attend based on need.

“One of our institutional goals and values is that we make the school as affordable as possible to every family who wants to attend,” Summers said. “This scholarship fund is the way that we’re working toward that goal by making it more affordable to more families.”

For those interested in supporting the school’s fundraising goals, the Scholarship Gala aims to offer a range of experiences: In addition to entertainment from Carter Daboiku and Bartlett, attendees can also look forward to live music from Americana band The Howdy Boyz.

The area band — whose sound Westhoff described as a mixture of its artists’ styles, including country, bluegrass and swing, among others — consists of local resident Linzay Young, host of WYSO’s “Louisiana Byways” music program; and Rick Good and Ben Cooper, of former Dayton music and dance company Rhythm In Shoes — with which Bartlett has a connection.

“[Bartlett] worked for Rhythm In Shoes for 20 years, so they’re all friends,” Westhoff said. “What [The Howdy Boyz] will provide for us will really facilitate the party, but it also connects to who [Bartlett] is.”

In addition to catering by local eateries MAZU and Current Cuisine, as well as an open wine bar courtesy of Emporium Wines, patrons can also look forward to the annual silent auction fundraiser. The auction will feature a range of items, including gift cards and packages from local businesses such as The Winds Cafe, Sunrise Cafe, Bootleg Bagels, Village Solar Co., YS Hardware, AC Service, Miami Valley Pottery, Tweedle D’s and Jailhouse Suites; work from local and area artists; Cincinnati Reds tickets; Nelsonville Music Festival tickets; classes and workshops; and a San Francisco getaway that includes lodging, a tour and a bakery workshop experience.

Summers said the gala will include one change this year: All items will be up for bid by silent auction.

“We’re moving away from the live auction part of the evening, because we’ve received feedback from the community that it’s not exactly the vibe that the evening calls for,” he said. “So we’re making it more in line with the school’s culture.”

Tickets to the event, as in recent years, will be $75; however, in an effort to make the event accessible to a broader range of community members, this year’s Scholarship Gala will also offer $45 tickets to those who request them.

The lower-price ticket is in line, Summers said, with The Antioch School’s philosophy of keeping its doors open for anyone who wants to attend — and the reason for the gala itself.

“We value every kind of diversity here at the school — including economic diversity,” Summers said. “We want this school to be reflective of the broader community and its makeup.”

For more information on the Scholarship Gala, or to reserve tickets, go to A complete list of silent auction offerings will be shared prior to the event; bidding will be facilitated through the online portal GalaBid.

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