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Honoring Black History Month at St. Patrick’s


 

As we reflect on Black History Month, what is important to us here at St. Patrick’s, and how we might celebrate together all of the gifts we have to share throughout our Wolfhound community, we continue to focus on themes of Black joy, education, and empowerment across the grade levels. In addition, this week we will continue our renewed tradition of live guest speakers as we celebrate our Chapels Honoring Black History Month. 

Each day this month, one of our PK classes is reading about someone different in Black history. Teachers explained to the students that history is all about telling people's stories and that, previously, stories about Black people did not often get told, even though Black people have been important in our country since its beginning. “Now, we are trying to fix that by sharing stories of Black Americans this month,” observed homeroom teacher Cindy Gunja. Some of the nonfiction titles are from the age-appropriate Little Leaders series and have included engineer, physician, and astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison and poet Phyllis Wheatley thus far. 

Using their earlier study of identity as groundwork, Kindergartners have discussed how important it is to celebrate differences and everyone’s many contributions. In service of this work, they participated in an in-depth study of Alma Thomas's life and art, with a final gradewide culminating art piece. This exploration of individuals and their important contributions will continue into the Kindergartners' transportation and invention studies, with Garrett Morgan, Mae Jemison, and Lonnie Johnson receiving dedicated days. Grade 1 classes are starting each Morning Meeting with a focus on the contributions of African Americans past and present. Similarly, Grade 4 uses Project Time and Morning Meetings to explore famous artists and musicians, as well as seek interdisciplinary ways to incorporate in their studies African American thinkers and their impact over time. 

Grade 2 is engaged in a month-long study of works authored and illustrated by the Pinkney family. With Jerry Pinkney's recent death, this year's study takes on increased significance for his life's work. Pinkney family books often highlight important African American events, stories, and figures. After centering on Black joy through numerous read-alouds, Grade 3 starts their study of Jamestown, which begins with the journey of enslaved people to America. This narrative is carefully crafted to be developmentally appropriate, since it is the first exposure to this chapter in history in the Lower School.

Middle Schoolers are connecting to Black history by selecting a passion of their own and finding someone or something from Black history that relates to their interest. Students start by creating a presentation that shares their passion or hobby, providing some background about both the student and the passion. Next, they research someone in the Black community who excels at their hobby or passion, someone they look up to, someone who is or was a trailblazer, someone they didn’t know about before, or someone everyone should know about. Finally, they will prepare the presentation to share in their Advisory groups. 

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