During the month of February, the Appalachian State University Academy at Middle Fork celebrated Black History Month through:
- dramatic play
- daily trivia
- door decorations
- a historically black college and university research presentation
- a local radio personality visit
- a living wax museum
Students from kindergarten to fifth-grade classes created, researched, and produced projects on prominent and lesser-known black inventors, athletes, civil rights leaders, activists, politicians, and entrepreneurs.
“Children need to understand and know their history in order to understand where they are going. Therefore, it was important for us here at the Academy to start a tradition of celebrating who we are and the endless possibilities of where we can go.” --Verschello M. Nelson, assistant principal
“We are fortunate at the Academy to have a diverse population of students and parents who embrace education and are committed to learning together, “ stated fourth-grade teacher Wanda McLemore.
The Academy’s literacy lab’s theme for the month, A World Without Color, provided students with insight on the contributions and legacies of individuals including Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, Ruby Bridges, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fourth-grade student Amiya Crawford researched civil rights activist, Ruby Bridges, and shared her story with students and staff at the Academy's Wax Museum. Photo submitted
“Children need to understand and know their history in order to understand where they are going. Therefore, it was important for us here at the Academy to start a tradition of celebrating who we are and the endless possibilities of where we can go,” stated Verschello M. Nelson, the Academy’s Assistant Principal.
Other keynote events that took place at the Academy included a presentation from Renee Vaughn, 97.1 QMG radio personality, and a student-led evening program for families that demonstrated what daily life would be like without the inventions of African Americans.
“Our students were highly engaged while they explored and connected their past to their present,” said fifth-grade teacher Monique Johnson.
The event, also titled “A World Without Color,” included musical performances of influential and inspirational songs such as “We Shall Overcome,” “Respect” and “Glory,” as well as the national black anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Fourth-grade teacher, Wanda McLemore (left) and Academy Assistant Principal, Verschello Nelson (right) celebrate Maelaya Little's (center) performance in A World Without Color. Photo submitted
“I felt that kids needed to know how important music was in helping African Americans get through the tumultuous times of the past,” said music teacher April Whitfield.
The culminating event held on February 28, 2019, was a living wax museum where the school’s fourth and fifth graders brought the historic figures that they spent the month learning about to life. With dozens of poster boards, costumes, and fact sheets written in first-person, students in younger grades were able to interact with their peers by placing coins into cups near display boards to activate their famous person’s narrative.
Fourth-grade student Ray'Jon Davis-McCullen stands beside his Wax Museum project on President Barack Obama. Photo submitted
Alicia Kinzer, a first-grade teacher who served on the Academy’s Black History Month Committee, affirmed, "It was a good experience for students and me to be able to focus on influential African Americans who paved the way for all people of diverse cultures.”
Several staff members are alumni of local HBCUs. First-grade teacher Alicia Kinzer created an incredible bulletin board to recognize those staff members. Photo submitted.
Kinzer also noted that as students carry the torch of citizenship in their future families and becoming community leaders, they came to appreciate the famous statement “if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”
Contributed by Darron Daniels, Jr.