Black History Month celebrated at Twinsburg schools

Kent Weeklies
Sandra Petrash, the kindergarten teacher at Wilcox Primary School, has her door decorated as part of the Black History Month activities at the school.

TWINSBURG – Art, dance, poetry and more are a few of the avenues in exploring the accomplishments of Black people during Black History Month.

“Although the shortest month of the year, February is set to be filled with many interesting and engaging learning opportunities for our students as we pause to reflect upon the experiences of our fellow Americans in our efforts to build a better tomorrow,” said Superintendent Kathryn Powers.

At Wilcox Primary School, teachers will introduce students to the rich African American culture, focus on notable historical and contemporary figures, and discuss respect for self and others. For the preschool, this includes songs and music from Sesame Street and Jack Hartman. Students ages 3 to 5 will learn about the accomplishments of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and George Washington Carver.

Students in kindergarten and first grade will spend time studying the biographies of notable African Americans. Teachers worked together to choose people for their achievements in science, entertainment, politics, law, education, and business. They will learn about historical figures like Ruby Bridges, Bessie Coleman, and Thurgood Marshall along with Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Mae Jemmison, and Kamala Harris.

Additionally, the art, music, and physical education teachers plan to focus part of their lessons on the art, musical, and athletic accomplishments of people and what made their work special while aligning the lessons to the content standards for each.

By Feb. 19, each preschool, kindergarten, and first grade classroom will decorate their door with something they have learned related to Black History Month -- a famous person, examples of art, affirmations, an event in history, literature. Classes will be invited to do a gallery walk at some point during the week of Feb. 22 through 26.

Another way students are able to read quality literature is through the Celebrating Black Voices virtual library. Wilcox students and their families will be invited to participate in “Wilcox Reads Week.” During this week, every family will receive a copy of the novel "King and Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth," courtesy of the Wilcox Primary PTA. This early chapter book by Dori Hillestad Butler, is the first in a series of books where a dog named King and his owner, Kayla, work together to solve mysteries. Books will be distributed to on-campus students by their teachers and the Twinsburg Public Library will distribute books to the Twinsburg Virtual Academy families. The Wilcox PTA is also working to schedule virtual field trips with the book’s author.

Every family at Wilcox Primary School will receive a copy of the novel "King and Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth," courtesy of the Wilcox Primary PTA.

Samuel Bissell Elementary School

At Samuel Bissell Elementary School, on the campus of Twinsburg High School, the students will learn about African American culture, experiences, and contributions with a focus on acceptance, self-acceptance, the importance of being kind to one another, and lending a helping hand. The students will view videos and read literature relevant to these topics.

Activities include a reading of “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers, with illustrations by Keturah A. Bobo; two short videos about the history of double dutch and the impact on African American culture and the world; having students create goals and promises they have for themselves in the form of a poem, a list, or a drawing; and discussions on what students think it is like to be the president of The United States.

George G. Dodge Intermediate School

This year’s Black History Month theme at George G. Dodge Intermediate School is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity: Past, Present, and Future.”

Activities include sending valentine cards for veterans and first responders; focusing on Black authors such as Sharon Draper, Christopher Paul Curtis and Jacqueline Woodson; and going over part of the poem, "The Hill We Climb" by Amanda Gorman.

RB Chamberlin Middle School

RB Chamberlin Middle School is planning many activities for Black History Month.

Eighth grade language arts will study the Harlem Renaissance, with an emphasis on Langston Hughes, as well as the Civil Rights movement, with “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream” by the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Students also will review excerpts from various speeches by Malcolm X and “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman, as well as the poetry of Maya Angelou, Tupac Shakur and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

There will be a video on famous mathematicians such as Dorothy Vaughn, Mae Jameson, and Benjamin Bannaker. They also will learn of the three African-American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

There will be a display by the office representing Black artists throughout history who have shaped the art world by forging the way, challenging assumptions, celebrating identity and bringing us into the 21st century. 

Eighth grade students will learn about various African American engineers and inventors through a series of videos and presentations on the off-campus day activities. Each week a different engineer or inventor will be featured. This list will include: Dr. Shirley Jackson, Lewis Latimer, Otis Boykin, Lonnie Johnson, and Garrett Morgan.

The RBC Orchestra students will rehearse and perform “Tuxedo Junction” by African American composer Erskine Hawkins. Students will learn how African American musicians created American Jazz.

Twinsburg High School

Twinsburg High School has multiple and varied activities planned to celebrate and recognize the many achievements of those individuals who have impacted lives and culture.

Events will include daily announcements related to events from history, and school-wide banners and posters. Students had a class color kick-off, with seniors wearing black for excellence, juniors wearing red for unity, sophomores wearing green for wealth and prosperity, and freshmen wearing yellow for success. These are also the colors associated with Black History Month.

Other activities include a viewing of past Black History Month "shows" with a virtual discussion afterwards.