Schools across St. Tammany Parish are observing Black History Month this February with a variety of programs and assemblies. Many had guest speakers from the community, presented songs, gave Powerpoint slide shows, held essay contests and put up educational displays throughout the campus. Programs are continuing over the next week.
Students took part in a variety of research projects and video productions, interviewing students, faculty, and members of the Black community. Some schools viewed films about Black Americans and had discussions afterwards. School libraries also took part in the event by showcasing books about Black Americans and their accomplishments. One school incorporated Black History Month into its design for its Mardi Gras floats.
Superintendent W. L. “Trey” Folse, III said, “Black History Month has become an important part of our School Year, with students focusing on the accomplishments and talents of Black leaders and individuals throughout our history. Teachers, students, and administrators have done much to enrich our knowledge about the contributions made by Black Americans in science, politics, and the arts.”
Abney Elementary held its Black History Month program on February 1, and every day has featured a reading during its morning announcements. Their topic for this month’s “Writing for Excellence” assignment is “Who is your favorite Black American and Why?” The school also presented a stage production with dozens of children involved.
Principal Susan Patin of Lake Harbor Middle School said, “We started with a special broadcast to the entire school to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in January. This month, our broadcast team presented information researched by our Social Studies classes, and this week we will host a Young Audiences presentation on Celebrating Black Americans in History.”
Many schools used the occasion to spotlight the arts, showcasing the works of Black artists in music and dance. Some student projects examined the history of the Black communities within their attendance areas, discovering the rich culture that has developed over the years through the influence of African Americans.
Efforts commemorating the month included emphasizing the importance of diversity throughout society.
Mandeville Elementary students learned a song about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “We held discussions on how we can make a difference in the world when we do what is right even when it is difficult,” said Principal Chantelle Smith. Students there also learned about African American artists and their art.
Principal Roslyn Hanson at Pitcher Junior High School stated that her students took part in a program that gave an overview of the critical points in African American history through poetry and literature. “At the end of the month, we will give the students an opportunity to reflect on what they have learned,” she said.
Fontainebleau Junior High included Black History Month in its classroom lessons, focusing on the contributions of Black Americans, and daily presentations and documentaries were also shown on the school’s in-house broadcasts. Lee Road Junior High School’s eighth grade class held a teleconference with students in Ghana, West Africa, to ask and answer questions and share insights into each other’s cultures.
Pontchartrain Elementary in Mandeville also reviewed the significance of the month and celebrated the many contributions made by famous Black Americans over the years. Printed biographies were placed on display in the school hallways.
Salmen High School brought in an African Drum and Dance troupe for a special performance for the students, many of whom participated with instrumental, vocal, and dramatic performances of their own. Chahta-Ima Elementary will hold a music program on Monday with songs, poetry, and dance themed in line with Black History Month.
Magnolia Trace Elementary had been planning for the celebration for many months, having appointed a committee to come up with ideas for lesson plans, daily announcements, and even a scavenger hunt throughout the school with clues taped to the walls.
Northshore High School decorated bulletin boards and also had special programs observing Black History Month.
For more photos from Black History Month in the schools,click here.
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