Teens Take the Stage 

Ken Starkes, Amira Allen, Jalen Lamkin. Photo: Susan Nolan

By Susan Nolan 

Ken Starkes sees teens as capable and full of potential. Both as club director for the Boys & Girls Club at Bates Middle School from 2015 to 2017 and now as outreach coordinator for Maryland Hall, he has let the young people he mentors lead the way.  

“I don’t tell them what to do,” he says. “They are full of ideas. They have great ideas.”  

Hood2Good (H2G) is one of those great ideas. The youth organization was founded by Annapolis teens in response to 17-year-old Terry Bosley’s 2007 murder. In 2020, it became a part of Maryland Hall’s Artreach Program with youth continuing to be its driving force. Frequently collaborating with the City of Annapolis, the movement has grown into a three-prong organization focusing on community service events, community engagement and youth showcases. 

The H2G Youth Summer Bash is their latest program designed to showcase the talent of Annapolis teens. Scheduled for July 6 at Maryland Hall, this outdoor concert will feature performances by local rappers, poets, comedians, steppers and dancers. Youth vendors will be on-site selling their artwork and handmade crafts.  

The show is under the direction of 18-year-old Amira Allen. A recent Annapolis High School graduate, Allen plans to study business administration at Bowie State University in the fall, but this summer, she is managing artists and techies.  

Starkes knows Allen is up for the job. “It’s a lot of work,” he says, “But I know that when this show is over, she’ll know she can do anything.” 

Allen’s interest in the program stems from her desire to see more activities for Annapolis’ young people. “At first, I mainly kept my ideas to myself, but then, I really wanted to create something for people my age to do,” she says.  

Nineteen-year-old Jalen Lamkin is playing a crucial role in the H2G Youth Summer Bash, too. Until 2020, Lamkin, a student at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, stayed behind the scenes operating the video and sound equipment. Now, he raps under the name Room-41-More and is one of the show’s featured artists. He has invested in karaoke machines that allow him to take his performances outside to be more accessible. “My unique trait for artistry is that I go out and perform live,” he says.  

See the artists hone their skills at the Maryland Hall show July 6 (7pm), then catch them at City Dock on July 10 for what Starkes calls “the main event.