WJHSD celebrates Black History Month
In honor of Black History Month, teachers at the West Jefferson Hills School District incorporated various activities and lessons throughout February to educate students on the impact of African American heritage, culture and achievement in our country. From kindergarten through high school, students engaged in meaningful learning activities based upon their individual grade levels. Here are a few highlights of Black History Month programs across the WJHSD.
Reading Projects – Students in the younger grades learned about various African American innovators and inventors such as astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, George Washington Carver and Lonnie Johnson by reading books with their teachers and completing corresponding activities. They also learned about the Underground Railroad by reading stories such as, Henry’s Freedom Box, Unspoken, and Freedom Quilt and completed graphic organizers to map the journeys and discuss the characters’ feelings. Students even created their own quilt pieces on famous figures in history!
Research Projects – Students researched noteworthy African Americans in several classes and conducted class presentations. Younger students chose a person, found three facts about their life, then made a creative presentation box to share their story! Middle and high school students engaged in more detailed reports by researching scientists and historical figures in numerous industries by showcasing their contributions in unique ways to educate their classmates.
Guest Speakers – Candi Castleberry, vice president of diversity partnership strategy and engagement at Twitter as well as the founder of the award-winning Dignity & Respect Campaign, spoke to students at Pleasant Hills Middle School and Thomas Jefferson High School on the importance of Black History Month and her work with the Dignity & Respect Campaign.
Art – Middle school students learned about Black artists who have shared exquisite portrayals of the struggles and triumphs of African Americans through their paintings, sculptures and other artwork. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Augusta Savage, Kara Walker, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks and other artists help to illuminate the African American perspective to the world.
Lessons and Documentaries – Grade-level history and social studies classes incorporated several lessons and documentaries to educate students on Black history such as abolitionism and the Underground Railroad, the Dred Scott case, the Civil War and emancipation, Brown v. Board of Education, 1963 March on Washington, and the Freedom Riders, to name a few.
Educational Displays and Gallery Walks – Hallways were filled with educational displays at the schools and the libraries showcased influential African Americans to promote awareness and create learning opportunities about Black History Month.