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Black History Month programs at Westerville high schools explore cultural identity, pay tribute to historymakers and celebrate Black joy

Black History Month programs at Westerville high schools explore cultural identity, pay tribute to historymakers and celebrate Black joy

The organizers behind the Black History Month programs at all three Westerville high schools wanted to cover topics and themes that resonate across their Black student community. 

Westerville Central’s “Creative Commotion: Black Students of Excellence” program hopes to bring joy, spread positivity and engage audiences with performances never done before during a Black History Month show at WCHS. 

Westerville North’s program, “Perspectives,” explores the viewpoints of notable Black historymakers that don’t typically come up in a history lesson.

Westerville South’s “Dear Black People” program dives into cultural identity, exploring the different countries, religions, cultures and histories that come together as one Black community. 

Westerville Central High School

The student directors behind WCHS’ Black History Month program have a goal for this year’s production.

“We need (the audience) to go home without their vocal chords,” said senior Ebbie Ntim, who wrote the show. “We want the crowd to dance. A big part of the show is to make the crowd choose what they want.”

Their program, “Creative Commotion: Black Students of Excellence,” is set to a woman scrolling through one of her favorite TikTok accounts and learns they created a profile for Black History Month. She scrolls through the feed, discovering a stream of content celebrating Black joy: various styles of dances, spoken word, rapping, singing and Double Dutch jump rope. 

“Each student has their own talents and we’re trying to put that on display,” said co-director and senior Shayne Dalton.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23 at the high school auditorium. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased here

Westerville North High School

This year’s Black History Month program at WNHS explores the different perspectives of Black trailblazers from different decades in history. 

Set in present day, four high school students take a class on time travel where they are each transported to different eras — 1920s, 1950s, 1970s and 1990s — and eventually become singer Ella Fitzgerald, dancer Alvin Ailey, activist Angela Davis and singer and rapper Ronnie DeVoe. 

“It’s about going into that person’s shoes and really seeing their perspective during those time periods,” said co-student director and junior Mariah Chaffin, who wrote the script. “They are people who you don’t typically learn about in American History classes. We wanted to bring a different type of history than the usual (civil rights figures).”

The program features a variety of artistic performances including singing, acting and various dances. 

Chaffin hopes those who come to the show will learn something new by the end of the program.

“I want them to have a different perspective, having a different outlook on Black history and knowing it’s a part of American history and it’s important and needs to be taught as the other types of history,” she said. 

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at the high school auditorium. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased here

Westerville South High School

WSHS’ “Dear Black People” program examines identity through the eyes of a student who doesn’t know his culture. With the help of friends, he discovers what it means to be Black by diving into different countries, religions, cultures and histories.

“They go through the stages of Black culture and how we’re proud to be African-American and how it’s a privilege,” said senior Joy Simei, who serves as the African dance leader for the show. 

The show features a variety of student performances, including scripted scenes, song, spoken word and various styles of dances — including several tribal dances that have been performed during a Black History Month program at WSHS. 

Simei said the program is a showcase of student talent.

“We have the vocals, we can dance,” she said. “We’re talented and it’s time to show what we can do.”

Showtimes are 5 p.m. Feb. 14 and 15 at the high school auditorium. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased here
 

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  • Westerville City Schools

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