Black History Month Highlights

Black History Month Highlights
Posted on 03/02/2022

Montclair Public Schools is 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.

The district has created a document featuring some of these many initiatives throughout our individual schools and below are just some highlights of the exciting things that took place around the district.

Bradford celebrated with activities throughout the month including a daily trivia game called, “Who Am I.” During morning announcements students gave three clues about someone. Classes investigated who it could be and their importance. The identity was revealed right before dismissal and a photo was added to the bulletin board. “If I can only record the thunderous roars and applause that fill the hallways upon the reveal. This game has added such an exciting element to learning!” said Principal Frances Aboushi.

school display school display

Grades K-2 had an assembly, a solo interactive Hip Hop performance, featuring music videos, multimedia presentations, call and response, as well as rhythmic movement with the audience. Students rapped along to original, professionally released music by Baba Bomani. Baba Bomani also tells the story of Frederick Douglass, as well as the story of the evolution of American music starting with the continent of Africa, moving on to Scott Joplin and ragtime music of the 1920s, then culminating in today's hip hop music. Grades 3-8 enjoyed an upbeat and active multi-media assembly exploring the fun process of hip hop songwriting while comparing the art form to the practical skill of essay writing. Using positive music videos and song lyrics, Bomani introduces students to his special "Bomani Armah Writing System '' (B.A.R.S), and they are encouraged to find and create art that reflects their lives and aspirations. Baba Bomani also tells the story of Frederick Douglass, as well as the story of the evolution of American music starting with the continent of Africa, moving on to Scott Joplin and ragtime music of the 1920s, then culminating in today's hip hop music.

In celebration of Black History Month, the PTA is hosted an artist-in-residence at Edgemont on February 16 and 18.  Local mom, and artist, Nadia Estela introduced each class to the Afrofuturism movement, and then led students through an art project based on the current Afrofuturism exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Before Yesterday We Could Fly, and focusing on the experience of the residents of Seneca Village, an African-American community that once existed on the land that was taken through eminent domain to form Central Park. 

students at assembly students at assembly student art project

During the month of February, Hillside celebrated Black History Month through various school wide activities. The third grade students in Mrs. Tiwari’s class participated in a cross-curricular STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activity to build monuments dedicated to influential Black people. First, the students viewed famous and historic monuments from around the world. After researching an influential African American in their social studies class, students brainstormed and illustrated their ideas for their monument. Finally, students selected and used recyclable materials to demonstrate their knowledge of balanced forces from their science unit, Forces and Motion. Monuments were displayed at Montclair shoe store, Piazza Della Sole.

students display art students with artwork

artwork on display in window

Watchung classes decorated doors for Black History shedding light on important African American figures throughout history, and the triumphs and challenges they have faced in their quest for equality and justice.

decorated door  decorated door  decorated door

decorated door  decorated door  

bulletin board display bulletin board display

Students and teachers worked very hard to honor the legacy and contributions of African Americans to today's society for Glenfield's Black History Month Door Decorating contest. Board of Ed members Kathryn Weller-Demming and Crystal Hopkins (pictured below with Principal Erika Pierce) were just a few of the community members and administrators who took on the tough task of judging.

decorated door   decorated door

decorated door  decorated door

decorated doors  decorated doors

Glenfield also held its annual African American Career Day virtually and in a special event, students Kailynn Sampson and Mya Spears, students in Courtney Washington’s math class, interviewed Joylette Goble Hylick, the daughter of Katherine Johnson. They discussed how it was growing up in the home of NASA mathematician, Katherine Goble Johnson. Johnson who was portrayed in the film Hidden Figures, received the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2019 Congressional Gold Medal, and was posthumously inducted to the 2021 National Women’s Hall of Fame.

A sampling of happenings and feedback from Buzz Aldrin staff regarding their activities: In Ms. Rodriguez’s Architecture classes, the students learned about 15 African-American architects. Students selected three of the architects that interested them and on whom they conducted further research. Afterwards, highlighting the accomplishments of their subjects, they presented their research to the class.  In Ms. Grassi’s 7th Grade ELA classes, students enjoyed researching and creating one-page collages on African Americans who have positively impacted history. They were responsible for selecting a topic, and a person who corresponded to that particular topic. The students demonstrated so much creativity and genuinely enjoyed completing their assignments
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