Written by Marci Chavalas, Executive Director of Leadership & Professional Development

All across campus students and teachers celebrated Black History Month by exploring the lives and contributions of our brothers and sisters in the African American community. The projects, movies, stories, and activities that your child participated in this month, along with the concepts that are integrated into our curriculum all year long, reinforced some important truths about God. Students learned that He is faithful, He uses ordinary people like them to do extraordinary things, and that He transforms every circumstance into an opportunity for growth and gospel sharing.

In Lower School, lessons in nearly every grade level celebrated Black History Month. In first grade, students explored the lives of eight African Americans who made an impact in our society through an interactive partner research project. They completed a bubble map and presented their facts to the classroom and then displayed the information in the hallway. In third grade, students explored nonfiction texts and created a project on impactful Black Americans. In sixth-grade, the students completed a writing homework assignment on Ida B. Wells, a famous journalist. They also completed a writing assignment on Gladys West, a mathematician. Earlier this year they read an excerpt from the Newbery Award-winning novel, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Through literature, students learned about the indignities of segregation in contrast to the dignity and value we find in our identity in Christ.

In the Middle School, seventh-grade students explored nonfiction text features. They read a poster entitled, World War 1 Recruiting Poster for African American Soldiers, 1918. Afterward, they answered reading comprehension questions, which led to a rich discussion. The students also watched “Hidden Figures” and discussed racism, the idea of the glass ceiling, how one’s Christian faith can see one through the most troubling times, and how they will be able to see/experience history at the Museum of African American History in Washington, DC. Eighth grade examined Colin Powell’s Speech, From Sharing in the American Dream, the article of the week, The Little Rock Nine students are a permanent part of U.S. history, and a few lessons from The Sermon on the Mount in the Civil Rights Movement.

In Upper School, Honors Biology students learned about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Juniors have been reading A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. They discussed the novel through the lens of 1948, 1964, and 2019. They expanded the names/lives of influential Black Americans to expose themselves to a more current and accurate representation of people. American History Honors students completed a “class-led lesson” where the students were in charge of preparing the lessons and they highlighted and honored black history by focusing on key political figures, courageous veterans, and leaders in the arts and culture to name a few.

Lessons were also expanded into elective courses such as art, music, and the Royal Academy of the Arts after-school activities. It truly was an amazing month and I hope that your students were able to share some of these exciting activities with you at home.

Marci Chavalas is a member of The First Academy’s Leadership Team. In addition to supporting the growth, development, and training of teachers; she oversees the implementation of all initiatives that seek to build cross-cultural unity, chairs the discipline committee for race-related incidents, advises on culturally sensitive issues, and counsels students and their families as they seek to build harmonious relationships with one another.