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WCSD students, staff honor Black History Month with celebrations, projects, cultural nights

WCSD students, staff honor Black History Month with celebrations, projects, cultural nights

All across Westerville City Schools, students and staff are honoring the contributions of African-Americans across history with Black History Month celebrations, projects and lessons.

Several schools kicked off their Black History Month activities Thursday, starting with a spotlight on important figures and facts in Black history on the morning announcements. Many teachers have mapped out daily lessons on Black historical figures and facts. Students created posters to commemorate the month, which are on display throughout several schools. Some buildings are hosting school-wide door decorating contests. 

Cherrington Elementary ushered in Black History Month with their Family Engagement Night on Thursday, embracing a theme of “Telling Our Stories” from Miami University’s “Telling A People’s Story” traveling exhibit currently on display at the school. The traveling exhibit, which was previously at Minerva France Elementary and will soon visit Mark Twain Elementary, is devoted to the art found within the pages of African-American children’s picture books and emphasizes the strength of the illustrations as visual narrative representations of the African-American experience.

At Westerville North High School, students in the African-American Studies classes launched the first of their “BHM History Minute” video series on Thursday for their peers to watch in their social studies classes. As part of the month-long series, students are researching trailblazing figures and events in African-American history, crafting scripts, filming and editing their productions. They also posed questions at the end of each video to prompt discussions in the classroom.

Students have also organized a BHM Read-In, where they are recording themselves reading children’s books with diverse and inclusive characters as well as Black history makers. They plan to share their videos with elementary students across the district. At the end of the month, the high school students plan to visit several elementary schools to read books in their classrooms. 

WNHS senior Glory Oguntuyi said the BHM History Minute videos have given her and her peers an opportunity to share what they’re learning in class and hopes the rest of the school finds the information helpful and interesting. She has especially enjoyed the Read-In project and discovering so many children’s books with Black characters.

“I never read any of them because I didn’t know they existed,” she said. 

“I like that we get to show this to the younger kids and they get to grow up in that knowledge that I didn’t get.” 

Here are some other events, activities and projects educators have planned in honor of Black History Month:

  • Young adult novelist and educator Torrey Maldonado will serve as the guest speaker during the fifth-annual African-American Read-In 10 a.m. - noon on Feb. 24 at Minerva Park Middle School. The event encourages community members to read together and celebrate African-American literature. 
  • All three Westerville high schools are hosting their annual Black History Month programs for the school and the community at the following dates:
    • Westerville Central: 7 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23
    • Westerville North: 7 p.m. Feb. 22
    • Westerville South: 7 p.m. Feb. 14 and 15
  • WSHS high school students are also hosting special performances for Blendon and Minerva Park students. 
  • Walnut Springs Middle School is hosting a Black History Night from 6-8 p.m. on Feb. 29, which will feature interactive activities, student performances, art and food. 
  • Blendon Middle School eighth-graders are creating floats featuring famous Black authors, scientists, artists, athletes, politicians and other figures for a Black History Month Parade for the entire school. 
  • Genoa Middle School’s BHM club has mapped a variety of activities for Black History Month under the theme, “As One, Justice Will Prevail.” Inspired by the Little Rock Nine students who were at the center of the struggle to desegregate public schools, BHM club members want to focus on groups that work together as well as highlighting the strength of individuals who lead the way. Among the activities they’ve planned for the school:
    • A school-wide Black history quilt where students will decorate pre-printed quilt squares that will be pieced together in the school’s front lobby.
    • Student-produced video shorts about different events and people in Black history.
    • A Cultural Heritage Day during Spirit Week at the end of the month.
  • Minerva Park Middle School students are planning performances for their peers during lunch. 
  • At McVay Elementary, members of the school’s student equity club have volunteered to visit classrooms and read a story featuring Black heroes.
  • Robert Frost Elementary students will watch videos about important individuals in Westerville Black history in class and discuss how the individual fits Robert Frost’s “Falcon Five” (I'm Safe, I'm Responsible, I'm Respectful, I'm Proud, I'm Ready to Learn!) as well as work on extension activities to help deepen their understanding and connection with the person they learned about.
  • At Cherrington, all teachers received "More Than Peach" instructional kits, featuring crayons and markers to reflect different skin tones with activity ideas for students
  • The Early Learning Center preschool program will host a school-wide assembly featuring African drumming.
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  • Westerville City Schools

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