Celebrating Black History Month
The months of January and February (and now even into March) were packed full of activities and events designed to celebrate Black History Month in a variety of ways! Below are some highlights from the various divisions!
From Intermediate School Principal, Javonne Stewart
On Tuesday, February 4th, we ended our commitment to celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and beginning Black History Month with a field trip to Atlanta to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park, his childhood home, and Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church in which both MLK and his father preached. Students and teachers walked the entire neighborhood while learning key facts and information about MLK and his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. In addition, students were able to see his burial tomb, the eternal flame, and the statue Gandhi, which are all a part of the national site.
Most intriguing for the students was seeing the wagon that held MLK’s coffin and was led through the streets of Atlanta, MLK’s Nobel Peace Prize, and the Grammy that he won for a speech he gave. It would not have been complete if we had not visited an exhibit dedicated to Coretta Scott King and her commitment to the movement. We saw her clothing, the veil she wore during his funeral, and evidence of the many accomplishments she acquired over the years. She was just as important in the history of the Civil Rights Movement as Dr. King! We ended the trip having lunch at an old Atlanta staple, The Varsity. 🙂
It has been a busy, yet learning-focused week in the Intermediate School. I was so proud watching the IS students take in all the sites on our trip to Atlanta. I hope that our experience led to families having some rich discussions around what we saw, learned, and did at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park on Tuesday. The only downfall was that we didn’t have enough time. It was such an incredible opportunity to take our students on this trip that chronicles an important part of our history.
From the Lower School Counselor, Kenneth Hoats
Last week during my time with your kids, in honor of Black History Month, we talked about African American folk tales and the importance they have played in African American culture. “In general, most African-American Folktales fall into one of seven categories: tales of origin, tales of trickery and trouble, tales of triumph over natural or supernatural evils, comic heart-warming tales, tales teaching life lessons, tales of ghosts and spirits, and tales of slaves and their slave-owners. New tales are based on the experiences of Africans in the Americas, while many of the traditional tales maintain their African roots. Although many of the original stories evolved since African-Americans were brought to the Americas as slaves, their meaning and life lessons have remained the same.”
We talked about the fact that slave owners did not allow slaves to learn to read or write. So slaves had to pass their history along from generation to generation in the form of oral stories.
We read the story of John Henry and his marvelous feats of strength and determination. We talked about a quote at the end of the book, “Dyin ain’t important, everybody does that. What matters is how well you do your livin’.” Of course, we discussed this quote taking into consideration where your children are developmentally. But we emphasized the importance of paying attention to how we are living our lives. In a way, this is mindfulness – being aware of our behavior and how we treat others.
From the Middle School Assistant Principal, Kris Maguire
Our 8th graders went to see the movie, Just Mercy, the movie based on the book by Bryan Stevenson, that was chosen as the all-school read last year. We have plans to incorporate some discussion points during character building time in order to reinforce the message of the movie.
Also, going to see the movie kicked off a new character-building initiative in Middle School where we are asking leaders from around the community to come and share with our middle school students during Monday assemblies. We’ll cover topics like honor, integrity, diversity, and how we treat others and even respect for ourselves.
From the Upper School Principal, Garry Sullivan
February is Black History Month, and I’m pleased to share a few conversations, initiatives, and activities we have been planning and discussing with the students. Some of these activities are specific to February, but Cultural Competency is something we are focusing on in every part of our curriculum and school culture. It is incredibly important to have a continuous, open dialogue about this topic. We (all of us) have to be comfortable being uncomfortable in creating a culture of reflection, empathy, and understanding of various races, cultures, and perspectives.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This year’s Black History Month theme, African-Americans and the Vote, recognizes the centennial of the passing of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, which granted African American men suffrage after the Civil War.
Given the theme mentioned above, it is fitting that one of our Upper School students, BJ Tillman, is heavily involved in an area-wide youth voter registration drive this year, as well. Her work was recently highlighted in this WTVM interview; we’re proud of you BJ! In addition to our teachers focusing on black history month topics in the class, here are a few additional initiatives that will be taking place this month. An Upper School homeroom challenge involving the viewing of the movie Just Mercy has been communicated to the students. Some additional initiatives include a special “jeopardy” during Upper School assembly on Monday and Friday trivia topics.
Another exciting addition is a new field trip to Montgomery, AL, that will now form an ongoing part of our Social Studies curriculum in collaboration with our English department every year. The one-day field trip will be on March 5th, and students will visit the Equal Justice Initiative Museum, the Legacy Museum, and other historical social justice sites. This will be a required trip for all Juniors each year, and to promote cross-collaboration, I am asking the English department to tie into their curriculum a research paper and oral presentation based on this field trip. If a student can do one assignment that covers work or homework for two classes, it also achieves our goal of reducing homework while being intentional with the work we are assigning.
To read about the trip to EJI last year, click here!
Make Your Mark
Last but most definitively not least! In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, Brookstone School hosted “Be the One to Make Your Mark” week in January to celebrate kindness, equality, and positive contributions to society. The week culminated with all students considering how they can make their mark in this world and adding their own mark to a school-wide mural. We invited students in all grades to submit a sketch that represents kindness, empathy, inclusion, understanding, and a better world.
We received over 90 submissions from students in every division and all of the thoughtful designs were excellent representations of a better world.
Congratulations to our four winners for their designs.
- Lower School: Mayson Ferris, Second Grade
- Intermediate School: Jaclyn Chang, Fourth Grade
- Middle School: Ava Chang, Seventh Grade
- Upper School: Liza Hollingsworth, Tenth Grade