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DCPS Celebrates Black History Month

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

DCPS Celebrates Black History Month

In this picture, Tylear is portraying Harriet Tubman, Joseph is portraying Jackie Robinson, and Isaiah is portraying Sidney Poitier.

Schools across DCPS celebrated Black History Month in very creative ways. Examples included lessons, research projects, contests, art work, field trips and performances. Here, some of our principals share what their school did to honor this important month.

Shahid Muhammad, Principal of Aiton Elementary School

“Aiton ES celebrated Black History Month (BHM) by stating a Black History Fact of the Day for each school day in February during morning announcements. We also provided to families a Black History Month Trivia Challenge Activity that could be worked on at home as a family. Students could turn in their completed document, or as much as possible, on February 27 for a prize. 

We have a Black History Month Celebration from 4:30-6:15 pm at school where each class will perform a poem, skit or song of expression to celebrate Black History Month. Our PTA sponsored a staff appreciation luncheon on February 28 in honor of BHM. 

Lastly, for students in grades 3-5, we had an essay contest for monetary prizes.” 

Dana Nerenberg, Principal of Hyde-Addison Elementary School

For Black History Month, we have a Wax Museum. Our fifth graders choose a figure in black history. The students visit each classroom and come to life and share a bit of their biography. In this picture, Tylear is portraying Harriet Tubman, Joseph is portraying Jackie Robinson, and Isaiah is portraying Sidney Poitier.

Jermall Wright, Principal of Leckie Elementary School

Throughout the month of February, the PBIS House students in third, fourth and fifth Grades celebrated Black History Month with the expanse of several oral and written activities. First, the House students brainstormed, bantered and adopted the theme, “Celebrating the Past; Embracing the Present; Looking forward to the Future”. 

Second, during each morning meeting the students were presented with a historical fact under the auspices of Who am I? Students could respond orally or in writing. 

Third, during the lunch interval over the span of several days, the students listened to a summary of the autobiographical text: The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. This helped to inform the creation of an original poem (co-joint efforts of students and the PBIS Coordinator) entitled, “Voices from the Past.” (Several House students recited the poem during the school’s African-American History Observance Program on February 22, 2013.) 

House students also participated in a fun 10-minute timed test, whereby each House tried to record the correct identity of as many African Americans as possible, from a large collage of over one hundred and fifty hundred notables. This activity was accentuated by a reading of an original poem entitled “Portrait of the African American”. While the poem was read by the coordinator, it was critiqued by the House students. 

Fourth, the House students celebrated in a whole-group assembly with receipt of an eight page educational packet entitled, “Black Americans and the Struggle for Excellence in Education”. This packet which was purchased earlier at the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolence and Social Change equipped the House students with an array of educational activities, inclusive of crossword puzzles, word finds, word scrambles and comprehension study questions.  

Lastly, the House students capped their expression of seminal thought and the sharing of historical accounts of African-American History with song and dance behind the harmonious backdrop of fun and laughter, while standing tall, proud, and confident. 

Portrait of the African American

Kept from our natural inheritance; stolen from our families

Months to years, years to decades, decades to centuries

It has been a long and less than jubilant time.


Footprints in yielding soil, clothes torn and tattooed to the brush

Faced with guns, knives, spears and other armors of ill-will

It has been a long and less than jubilant time.


Jeweled with rusty chains and endless shackles

Sick from the ocean’s curse

It has been a long and less jubilant time.


Refused food service and lodging, denied the right to read

Brave young souls with book-bags escorted to school by tanks and the militia

It has been a long and less than jubilant time.


Eventually, the African sun peeped across the horizon and the Nile’s waves searched

all shores, looking for its travelers: grandsons and daughters of Kings and Queens 

and Chieftains, and Griots

Finally, they found its travelers: no longer captives, no longer nomads, but, in fact, settlers

Settlers in homes, settlers in communities, and settlers in the White House.


At last, the magical and jubilant time has come to reclaim our legacy,

to reclaim our natural inheritance

Everybody can’t be from Kenya, but everyone is kin

It’s a family portrait deeply rooted in the arteries of Mother Africa.

Co-Written by Students of Leckie’s House Ambisie with guidance from Phillip White, PBIS Coordinator


J. Harrison Coleman, Principal of Malcolm X Elementary School

Students in grades 3rd-5th participated in the Wards 7 and 8 Season of Change Essay Challenge 2013. We received 1st, 2nd, 3rd placements and Honorable Mention in the category for students and 1st place and Honorable Mention in the category for teachers. 

Also, students at Malcolm X wrote "Dear Dr. King" letters for a school-wide writing contest. Individual letters by student in grades 3-5; teams (small groups) letters in K-2nd and class letters in PreS and PreK were submitted for display for tonight's Black History Program, "Learning and Loving Our Legacy".

The purpose of the "Dear Dr. King" letter was to share with Dr. King how the world looks today through the eyes of our students.

Atasha James, Principal of MC Terrell/McGogney Elementary School

In order for our students to become 21st Century learners, it is essential that they are taught research and information skills as early as possible. Our Black History Month Assembly was a terrific opportunity to introduce some basic research and technological skills to our 4th grade class and showcase the final product at the assembly. 

We chose to research Mary Church Terrell (our school’s inspiration and namesake). The students researched different parts of her life in small groups using electronic resources (Encyclopedia Britannica Online Edition and other online databases) and books in the library media center. Once they collected their data, each team made a few PowerPoint slides with pictures and audio to present the information to a wider audience (i.e., the assembly). 

Overall, our students learned about the research process using a variety of sources, learned about using primary resources, and learned how to prepare their research using 21st Century technology.

Jennifer Frentress, Principal of Tyler Elementary School

One of our classes, in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, identified prominent African-American women who made significant contributions to American history and created poems and written portraits that expressed the accomplishments and patriotism representative of the best of our country.

 Bessie Coleman, Rosa Parks, Dr. Mae Jemison, Gabrielle Douglas, Oprah Winfrey and others were all represented in such a way and will be on display in the auditorium starting March 1. This activity dovetails with the Unit focus (Creative, Innovative, and Notable People, and the traits/actions that make them so).