- Mark Twain Elementary
Black History Month
February is Black History Month, also known as African American History Month. Throughout February, our schools will celebrate with assemblies, art projects, musical performances and more. We want to share these experiences with the entire District, so be sure to email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to what students will experience this month, we’re committed to making equity part of our daily instruction, ensuring students benefit from learning about and celebrating all cultures.
To that end, FWPS is dedicated to removing barriers to attaining high academic achievement and providing culturally responsive instruction scholars see themselves in their learning and feel a sense of belonging in our buildings.
FWPS believes diversity is a strength fortified and enriched by the contributions of our African American and historically underrepresented students. No matter what their ethnicity, FWPS students are taught to see Black History as an important part of their story as Americans. Our all year long.
View additional recognitions in the FWPS Cultural & Religious Calendar here: https://www.fwps.org/culturalcalendar
Black History Month Celebrations at Meredith Hill and Mirror Lake Elementary Schools
We’re celebrating and honoring Black History Month across the district this month. Over at Mirror Lake Elementary, our young scholars are empowered to share and learn about the contributions and legacy of important African Americans across U.S. history and society.
Mirror Lake Principal Courtney Eylander is excited for this month’s opportunities for our scholars saying, “every Friday at Morning Assembly, scholars will learn about an important figure in Black history. Facts, photos, and the impact on our lives today will be shared by Mirror Lake student leaders. Having scholars lead this time is a great way to involve them.” For the first Friday in this year’s Black History Month, scholars Chandler and Yonatan provided a presentation on George Washington Carver’s contributions, citing his accomplishments and contributions in U.S. history.
At Meredith Hill Elementary, assembly-time sharing is also taking place, with scholars Chloe and Josh talking to the scholar community about their Black heroes. Chloe shared about Rosa Parks’ life, her involvement in the bus boycotts during the civil rights movement, and the legacy she is remembered for.
Josh's presentation was focused on someone closer to him, someone who was at the assembly that Monday morning—his father! Joseph Bowman, a pastor and local leader deeply woven in the community, was at the assembly that morning and Josh used the opportunity to recognize him as his hero. Josh said, “my dad gives good sermons, he talks to people, [...] he takes me to basketball practice, and he [holds] events for people in the community.” Scholars gave both Josh and Chloe, and their heroes, Pastor Bowman and Rosa Parks, a round of recognition and appreciation.
Meredith Hill Principal Helen Babbin commented on the school’s Black History Month assembly presentations saying, “one of the ways that we see and hear our families is through Black History Month and honoring African American heroes in our community and history. Our scholars are excited to share about either family members, or people in their community, or people in Black history.”
FWPS is thankful for our scholars, staff, and the FWPS community in helping scholars see themselves in their learning and feel a sense of belonging in our buildings. Thank you to Mirror Lake Elementary, Meredith Hill Elementary, and our young scholars for leading the way!
Black Student Union Leads Black History Month Spirit Week at Todd Beamer High School
Todd Beamer High School scholars are celebrating Black History Month in the form of their Spirit Week, themed “Black History Matters.” Organized in collaboration with Todd Beamer’s Black Student Union (BSU), the days highlighted Black history learning, Black culture attire expression, and culminated in a Friday “Blackout” with everyone encouraged to wear all black.
The BSU’s involvement, input, and voice was central to selecting the week’s theme and the days’ specific emphases. The BSU is an on-campus group comprised of student leaders committed to advocating for and uplifting Black scholars. TBHS BSU members, Princess and Amauriona, believe that BSU and Black History Month provide meaningful avenues for them.
Grant said, “I feel like Black people are being respected and that we're trying to make a movement towards having our full equality. It's made me feel happy inside. Really happy.” Tellis agreed with her and added that, “having a voice for us to feel comfortable and safe in our schools” makes all the difference.
On Thursday, the theme of the day was African Attire Dress Day – Dashiki. Black scholars were encouraged to wear attire that represented their culture and expressed themselves freely. Angela and Hajiy wore clothing that are connected to their Black heritage and spoke about what this opportunity meant to them and how it brings another part of who they are into the scholar community at Todd Beamer High School.
Angela expressed that it’s given her the opportunity to, “[show how I also] represent myself outside of school and how I represent like family, because my mom, she wears [this clothing] all the time…It shows a sign of respect to my elders and ... respect for my grandma and how she's been through stuff from generation to generation.” Angela proudly shared that her attire originally belonged to her grandmother and has now been passed down to her.
TBHS scholar Sekou also stopped by and talked about the importance of Black History Month and showing pride for Black heritage. He mentions that Black history is important and that “even if you don't really know where you're from, you can know the culture and what comes from your heritage… My family and I always talk about it… so I always think about where I'm from [and] my history... [This is] something that no one can take from me.”
As Black History Month celebrations continue throughout our district, Todd Beamer BSU advisor, Assistant Principal Dr. LaWonda Smith-Marshall, right, featured with Dean Mrs. Tenea Jones, left, and scholars, shared “that our scholars nowadays are more self-actualized than maybe when I was in high school and being able to freely walk in [and] who you are wasn't the mold that was presented for me to feel safe to say [that] I'm an African-American female. [However] here at Todd Beamer, having that awareness rise is very important because it prepares them for a macrocosm of what they're going to encounter. Then, being here in the micro sense gives them the opportunity to begin to talk to one another and see how we all are intersecting [to] begin to move closer together versus being more polarized.” Celebrating and honoring Black History Month empowers our scholars to fully enrich themselves within our community to be seen, valued, and heard. Our students benefit from learning about and celebrating all cultures with one another to bring about limitless potential and endless possibilities in our schools.
FWPS Scholars are empowered during Black History Month to create positive changes
Sequoyah Middle School Social Justice Groups Advisor Ms. Jaquette Easterlin, pictured right, supports scholars with their action plans.
At Sequoyah Middle School, along with celebrating Black History Month with a Spirit Week centered around Black history, people, and culture, the school also started their Social Justice Groups with interested scholars. The Social Justice Groups’ mission is focused on improving school culture so that all scholars feel safe, valued, and empowered to succeed. Sequoyah scholars were able to collectively voice their concerns and improvement areas to create action plans to work together with staff and bring about positive changes for our scholars.
The social justice groups that scholars have advocated for are centered around school culture, staff and student relationship building, vaping/smoking and drug use awareness, and improving the cafeteria environment. School staff Ms. Malloy, Mr. Martinez, Ms. Jay, and Ms. Banks are supporting the scholars and groups as they research and implement the action plans.
For Social Justice Groups advisor and school counselor Ms. Jaquette Easterlin, starting social justice groups during Black History Month wasn’t a coincidence. Rather, she sees a strong connection between the two remarking that “when I decided to do the social justice groups, … so much of Black History is ingrained in civil rights, civil rights movement and making social justice changes, where I really wanted our students to see themselves in that role where they could have some say and agency in what's happening in our building.”
Sequoyah scholars saw this leadership opportunity to elevate scholar voices and to create a more equitable school culture. Scholars Aaliyah, left, and Sahmara, right, have a specific idea they’re looking to address. They see an area of improvement for the school community to engage in deeper conversations and education around race and language. Their hope is to be a part of the solution, decision making, and conversation with staff in fostering an inclusive school community for all our scholars to succeed. To them, this starts with standing up for our BIPOC scholars and bridging the gap between staff and student relationship understanding of one another.
Their dedication led them to their involvement with the Social Justice Groups to be a part of the change at Sequoyah Middle School. Ms. Easterlin praised them for their energy, saying, “[they] are really passionate about their school community and most often stand up when other students are being bystanders... I approached [them] asking if this would be something that they wanted to be a part of. I was hopeful we could bridge the gap between what they were trying to do and give them the opportunity to make some real changes." Ms. Easterlin shared that she wants “to give [our scholars] a space to be able to use their voice and to create some change in the building.” The Social Justice Groups will present their work/action plans in March to school leadership.
Sequoyah is honoring Black History Month by driving that sentiment with great respect to the civil rights history, with staff and scholars striving for change and equity in their school community. FWPS encourages their work and initiative in seeing where they can be the difference, and how Black History Month is an integral motivation in making it happen.
Brigadoon Elementary marches for kindness
Each school in FWPS is celebrating and honoring Black History Month in a unique way. For Brigadoon Elementary, one way they chose to honor Black History Month was with a march that was inspired by the one Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led for freedom and delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Led by first graders and kindergarteners, the school held banners, had a march chant, and called out to everyone with a simple request – “Be kind!” – all around their school buildings.
The march came together when two classrooms, Ms. Wagan’s first grade class and Ms. Boutwell’s kindergarten class, were learning about the civil rights movement. Brigadoon Principal Vicki Lopez recounted how the event came to be, saying “[the two teachers] had been talking about Black History Month, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and ‘the march’… and so our scholars wanted to do their own march.” The two teachers got together and agreed that it would be a positive learning experience for the scholars to get a sense of what the children during the 1960s civil rights movement marches might have felt.
Ms. Wagan assists scholars with their posters, and scholars display their poster artwork.
The scholars, with guidance from their teachers, chose their issue – kindness. They created their own signs, with some choosing to say “Freedom”, others saying “All People are Welcome”, amongst many other calls for kindness. Perla, a scholar in Ms. Wagan’s class, chose the words “All People are Welcome” for her poster, because she thought that “it was really nice” and “[we] can all be at the same school.”
When the time came, they organized in lines, and posters were in hand. Ms. Wagan’s first grade class met with the kindergarten class, and they started off. The group marched walked around their buildings encouraging and inspiring others to “Be kind!”.
After the two classes completed their march, they returned to their classrooms and Ms. Wagan talked with her class about the experience and how they felt about their time marching. Scholars shared their thoughts and feelings about going out and speaking up for being kind, and the rest of the class was supportive and attentive.
Brigadoon scholars had the opportunity to honor Black History Month and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with this one-of-a-kind event. During their march, scholars shared their message and felt empowered on what it feels like standing up for something and raising awareness to it. Creating an environment where all scholars can be seen, valued, heard, and have a sense of belonging is at the core of FWPS, and Brigadoon Elementary is doing just that.