District Celebrates Black History Month

District Celebrates Black History Month
Posted on 02/28/2023
Montclair Public Schools celebrated African American History month with a variety of educational and enrichment activities throughout the month of February. Although African American history is integrated throughout our year-long curriculum at all levels, teachers and students are making a concerted effort throughout the month of February to further explore significant African American historical figures and associated events. Displays throughout schools featured art, literature and general information reinforcing the curricular programs while a multitude of assemblies, programs and classroom-specific activities emphasized the history and significance of African Americans throughout history. Below is just a small snapshot of some of the incredible creative and impactful classroom, schoolwide and District activities and be sure to check back for more additions. 

“Black to the Future,” a literacy series co-sponsored by the NAACP and Montclair School District was held on Feb. 24 at Nishuane School.

black history month event black history month event
black history month artwork black history month artwork
black history month event black history month crafts

This special kid-centered evening featured an Afrofuturistic Lego Building Center, Black Comic Book Literacy Station, performances by the youth collective, puppet show and more. This fun-packed evening engaged attendees to use their imagination to create a better future inspired by the African Diaspora and Black History Month. 

Staff and students participated in a lively assembly by the MSU West African/Ghanian Ensemble that celebrated traditional West African music, which includes drumming, singing, and dancing. It is participatory music by design, so everyone was dancing and singing. Attendees also learned about Ghana, and the characteristic components of West African music (call and response, polyrhythm, the unification of drumming, and the immense spiritual component of the music). how they work to connect people with all of nature, and how West African music has influenced the popular music of all the Americas.

ghanian orchestra  ghanian orchestra
Among the special guests who participated in the assembly were NJDOE Assistant Commissioner Jorden Schiff, and Superintendent Jonathan Ponds.

Third graders worked on a “Decades” project for Black History Month (pictured below).

students work on project  students work on project
students work on project  students work on project

The hallway displays honor notable Black Americans whose contributions helped shape the world we live in today. 

Edgemont collaborated with One River Art School and The James Howe House to incorporate historical exploration with an art activity. Students joined together for an art-making activity to make their own artistic renditions of the James Howe House.

art art project art

Glenfield held its annual Black History Month door decorating contest. Students and staff worked together to create amazing displays highlighting historic and notable African Americans. 
black history month door black history month door
black history month door black history month door

Hillside students had a Black History Month filled with STEAM activities celebrating Black Excellence. Students had a chance to participate in two zoom discussions. Karen Lawson (the daughter of the infamous father of video gaming- Jerry Lawson) explained her father's legacy and even gave students a virtual tour of her family home and some of her dad's prized possessions. In addition, Tracie Strahan, (Hillside mom and reporter, WNBC-TV) moderated a panel discussion with neighborhood doctors.

black history month classroom activity black historymonth steam activity
black history month speaker black history month zoom
black history month steam acvitiy black history  month steam acvitiy

Students also had a chance to participate in hands-on activities. Hillside dad, Michael Chisolm (Director of Eagle Flight) facilitated a STEAM U where kids got the opportunity to build robots and fly drones. And Hillside mom, Karina Linch (BrainPop Chief Product Officer) and her staffers taught homeroom classes techniques to make their own movies about Black history. And every day of the month, during the morning announcements, a student was selected to speak over the intercom to teach their peers and highlight an important black STEAM figure. 

Montclair High School
Superintendent Jonathan Ponds; Dr. Christopher Irving, Acting Assistant Commissioner of Field Services for the New Jersey Department of Education; and Montclair Public Schools administrators attended Montclair High School’s Black History Month event, Mon., February 27. The High School’s Center for Social Justice, in collaboration with the Civics and Government Institute, Black Student Union and the STEM Academy, hosted Montclair’s Premiere Dance Theater for an artistic expression of culture and community to culminate the celebration of Black History Month. 

admins pose in front of high school dance performance

The event was followed by a Q&A session led by Seton Hall professor, Reverend Dr. Forrest Pritchett. Rev. Pritchett is a long-time civil rights activist, mentor, and adviser. With 53 years of experience in higher ed, including his over 40-year career at Seton Hall, which began in 1978, he currently serves as the director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Program and the senior adviser to the provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Nishuane's School Action Team for Partnership, in conjunction with community members, PTA volunteers, and Nishuane staff came together to present a culminating assembly entitled "A Black History Walk.” The audience was captivated by a performance art story about the long history of African Americans filled with West African dancers, West African drummers, a step team, and a vocalist. The story followed The People from the African continent before 1619 to present day. Students watched as the narrator shared how it all started by naming some of The People's empires on the African continent, as our drummers and dancers performed in celebration of the life and the memories of their ancestors.

Black History Month performers Black history month assembly

Black history month performance black history month performance

black history month performance black history month assembly

The journey continued as The People were taken from their homeland, landing on the shores of South Carolina, Virginia, Hispaniola and Brazil, and became one. Then a new day came, and The People were "free." The audience listened as a vocalist sang, The Black National Anthem, a song of freedom. The assembly wrapped up with a host of community members coming together as the drummers played. The narrator reminded the audience that The People, black people, are our local leaders and politicians, police officers and firefighters, doctors, dentists, nurses, lawyers, professionals, businesspeople, authors, educators, mentors, coaches, PTA members and parents. They move to the beat of our ancestors, as they are Black History! They are Black History Everyday! The audience clapped along to the beat of the drum as the community changemakers exited the stage dancing up the aisles in celebration of Black History.

Northeast School kicked off Black History Month with a Black Lives Matter Week of Action assembly featuring Hip Hop Fundamentals.

hip hop assembly hip hop assembly

The group of award winning performers who educate, engage and empower school communities taught about the history and principles of Hip Hop: Peace, Love, Unity and Having Fun.

Superintendent Jonathan Ponds (pictured below) stopped by the Northeast "Wax Museum," featuring students dressed as notable African Americans in government, the arts, sports and more, reciting historic facts. 

wax museum wax museum
wax museum wax museum
wax museum wax museum

Renaissance had the honor of hosting Willie Mae Brown, the author of a new book My Selma: True Stories of a Southern Childhood at the Height of the Civil Rights Movement. In the book, written for young adults, Brown reflects on her time growing up in Alabama and how the civil rights era shaped her coming of age.

author reads to students author visit
Students not only engaged with Brown, but also ordered many books and she signed each one for our students.  

Watchung celebrated Black History Month with a student led assembly. The assembly's theme was: 28 days, Moments in Black History that Changed the World.
black history month assembly black history month assembly
black history month assembly black history month assembly
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