Black History on Display in SSD Schools and Partner Districts
Feb. 26, 2021 – During the month of February, classrooms at Northview High School decorated their doors and hallways with photos, essays, drawings, and signs to highlight Black inventors as part of their Black History Month celebration. One classroom highlighted Dr. Kizzy Corbett—the lead scientist in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna. It’s a fitting honor, as Northview has taken on a new, more socially-distant version of door decorating from previous years, due to the restrictions in place at schools during the pandemic.
“Normally we’d be able to have each class do more interactive things,” said paraprofessional Olivia McClinton. “We always tie things in with the curriculum, and often would have food that other classes could come by and sample. But with no food and other restrictions, we had to step up our game in other ways.”
Northview students did step up their game—as did classes throughout SSD when it came to celebrating Black History Month during this unique time.
At Neuwoehner High School, Audrey Winters and her class kicked off Black History Month on Feb. 1 by marching through the hallways of their school holding signs along with a speaker playing audio of a speech from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Winters and her classes have taken part in this tradition for more than a dozen years, but this year the march took on a slightly different route. In years past, they marched through SSD’s Central Administrative Office. But this year the students were only able to march throughout their school’s hallways and had less direct interaction with other classrooms.
At Ackerman School, staff and administrators interlaced several programs to help students learn about themselves and Black history at the same time. The “I Am Somebody” project features students reading facts about famous African Americans over the intercom each day in February for in-person students and over Zoom for students learning at home. Along with learning about historic figures, the students also did exercises to learn more about themselves. “The project promotes a positive self-image for students,” said principal Lisa Leonard-Sneed. The “I Am Somebody” project also helps students think about what they want for their own future—tying in with the school’s semester theme of “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” The activities were done by grade level and culminated in hallway displays shown throughout the school. Ackerman students are also reading several books and even performing poetry, performing music and recording videos to go along with the themes.
At Brown Elementary in the Hazelwood School District, classes are reading “The ABCs of Black History” during their virtual morning meetings. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the building created sets of slides that include interpreted read-aloud sections of each day’s pages and supplemental resources to expand upon students’ knowledge and understanding of Black history.
At Jamestown Elementary, also in the Hazelwood School District, a collection of student and staff performing poems, songs, artwork and more was collected and shared on YouTube.
Students at Lewis and Clark Elementary in the Riverview Gardens School District will have their Black History Month projects displayed on the Riverview Gardens website and Facebook page.
Students in the School District of Clayton worked along with their peers to produce a video series to highlight important events and leaders, both contemporary and historic. The video series can be viewed here.
Students attending in person at Shenandoah Valley Elementary in Parkway Schools, created Black History Month displays, with each grade level showing their work throughout the school. The school librarian was able to share a virtual display for students in virtual campus.