Baltimore County Public Schools celebrates Black History Month

TOWSON, MD. – The contributions African Americans have made to American history and culture are being celebrated in myriad ways throughout the month of February (Black History Month) by the students and staff of Baltimore County Public Schools.

Here are just a few examples:

 At Catonsville High School, a different African American is being spotlighted each day on the morning announcements and through posters around the school. A student, Diamond Pryor, initiated this activity and is coordinating it with Tracy Rehmert, department chair of business and technology education. Grade 9 government students at the school are traveling to the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to visit two exhibits that celebrate African American History:The Civil Rights Act 50 years later and Making Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement.  In addition, the social studies department is working with AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) students to create morning announcements that highlight African American accomplishments, and intercultural nutrition and foods classes are studying the cultures and foods of Africa.

 On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Chase Elementary School honored Black History Month with a schoolwide assembly called “Meet Dr. King.” This assembly was presented by the Bright Stars Touring Theatre and sponsored by the school’s PTA.

Grade 5 students at Church Lane Elementary School researched famous African Americans and showcased traits of these leaders in colorful Taguls (“word clouds”).

Black History Month events at Pikesville High School will include: a debate among historical characters on Wednesday, Feb. 17; a poetry slam and step team performance on Thursday, Feb. 18; the It Takes a Village luncheon on Friday, Feb. 19; and a World Read Aloud Day celebration on Wednesday,Feb. 24. All events will take place in the school’s library media center.

Pinewood Elementary School’s Black History Month activities involve history, art, music, and biographies. Throughout the month, Black Saga club members (under the direction of teacher Crystal Westerberg) will read a different African American trivia question on the morning announcements each day so that all students may have the chance to win prizes from the school store. A student teacher, working with art teacher Sheldon Lebowitz, will lead Kindergarten students in making cut paper African masks. Vocal music teacher Katrina Godfrey and her Grade 5 students will read the book “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” learn the spiritual, and create a bird’s eye view map of the Underground Railroad. Godfrey will work with her Grade 1 students to explore the call and response singing technique featured in many old Negro spirituals. Instrumental music teacher Karen Seward and her Grade 4 students will read the book “We Shall Overcome,” learn the song, and study the work “Parting the Waters,” which uses the vocal inflections of a Martin Luther King speech as melody. In addition, they will create new verses to the song, and design a book to showcase their new verse and a transposed version of the melody for their instruments. Teacher Tara Brickley has created an informative, decorative Black History Month display at the entrance to the 4th grade wing. Finally, throughout the month, Pinewood Grade 5 students will read short biographies of notable African Americans and will write summaries of their lives and contributions.

 Randallstown High School has produced a special issue of Rams Horn, their monthly school news magazine, focused on Black History Month.

Students in BCPS elementary and middle schools are wrapping up their involvement in Black Saga, a competition that challenges students to learn facts about African American history and culture. Middle school semifinals were held on Wednesday, Feb. 3. Forty-five elementary school teams will participate in semifinals on Tuesday, Feb. 9, and Thursday, Feb. 11. The county finals will be held on Saturday, Feb. 20, beginning at 8 a.m. at Dumbarton Middle School.

To learn more about how BCPS schools are recognizing Black History Month, please visit @BaltCoPS on Twitter and look for #BCPSblackhistory.