SCSD Schools Celebrate Black History Month in Exciting, Unique Ways
Published on 3/1/16
District News Bellevue Elementary School Dr King Elementary School Ed Smith Huntington K-8 School PSLA @ Fowler Roberts preK-8 School Syracuse Latin Van Duyn Elementary School
Each day for a week, Roberts students got a unique look at notable African Americans from the past through a Living History activity. After selecting an individual to research at home, teachers selected a few students to get in character and visit other classrooms throughout the school to talk about what they learned—as if they were that person!
Hank Aaron visited (complete with his baseball glove), President Obama and Michelle Obama visited (accompanied by Secret Service, of course), as did Oprah, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others. Each of these figures gave a brief speech about their life and major accomplishments and encouraged students to continue their education so they can achieve great things as well.
“It’s been fun to dress up as him for Black History Month,” third grader Christian Perry said of pretending to be Hank Aaron. “I never knew he was a baseball player, and I love baseball! So it was cool to learn about him.”
“I used to go to Dr. King school because my dad works there, so I already knew about him a little,” second grader Rashaan Listenbee said of Martin Luther King, Jr. “I was so happy to learn more about him, and it’s great to tell other people at school the things I’ve learned.”
At Ed Smith School, students took part in the 13th annual African American Panel Discussion, intended to help them internalize the spirit of hard work, good character, education and entrepreneurship. Guest speakers from the community spoke, poetry was read, students danced, staff sang and a the new African-American Postal Stamp was unveiled.
Special Education teacher Karen Blue initiated the event and has been overseeing it since year one. Through the years, she has arranged for speakers from the music industry, athletes, Assembly members, law enforcement officials and more—even our own Superintendent Contreras has been a featured speaker!
“When I started here, our students were saying they weren’t seeing themselves in leadership roles,” Ms. Blue explained. “But right here in Syracuse, there are so many strong, positive role models for them who are in leadership roles. I thought about starting this event to give them insight about the paths open to them, and help them learn about the history here in the City.”
Students look forward to the event each year, noting the excitement of learning about activists in Syracuse and beyond.
“It’s cool to hear the stories of people overcoming challenges and racism and people who thought they were inferior,” eighth grader Clara Neville said.
Throughout the District, schools held celebrations and assemblies to celebrate Black History Month. At Huntington, students worked on a variety of activities and tasks in recognition of “Diversity Appreciation Month.” Syracuse Latin students researched famous African Americans and created posters highlighting their achievements. At Dr. King Elementary, third through fifth graders enjoyed a performance by Soul Steps, a national and internationally recognized group that uses the body as a percussive instrument and embraces the rich African-American tradition of ‘stepping’ to present work that explores the language of rhythm. At Bellevue, pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students presented stories, artwork, songs and more to peers and parents. At the end of their day-long celebration, a school-wide assembly was held, featuring dance performances by third and fifth grade students.
Van Duyn students read books written by African American authors as part of the African American Read-In, a program that aims to promote literacy through the writings of African Americans. At PSLA at Fowler, a celebration featured students singing the Black National Anthem and other poignant songs, poetry readings, a discussion about the history of jazz and hip hop, keynote speaker Raymond Blackwell and more.
Thank you to all of our students and staff for their efforts in making this year’s Black History Month one to remember!
To view photos of the various school events celebrating Black History Month, please click through our Flickr album >>>