Second grade teacher Valerie Thornton led Lower School Chapel on Wednesday, February 15, teaching about the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
A nonreligious holiday started in the 1960s, Kwanzaa is primarily celebrated in the United States but does extend to other parts of the world. The concept draws on South African first fruit celebrations.
Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 through January 1. So, why was Mrs. Thornton teaching about it in February? The principles: unity; determination; working together to solve problems; supporting each other's businesses; purpose; creativity; and faith can be applied to students' lives throughout the year, she explained. To demonstrate, her students acted out short skits that showed how each principle might be used at or around school.
“The principles of Kwanzaa are timeless, meaning they are important all the time," Mrs. Thornton said.
Mrs. Thornton also described Kwanzaa celebrations. Each of the seven days is dedicated to one principle. On each day, families come together to light one of seven candles and to discuss the principle for the day.
Mrs. Thornton also led students in a rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing, a hymn originally used as a school song around 1900 - children in Florida first performed it to honor Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Written as a poem by educator and civil rights leader James Weldon Johnson, the song emphasizes the hopeful appeal for the liberty of Black Americans and was later adopted by the NAACP.
Mrs. Thornton closed by calling on students to consider how the principles of Kwanzaa might be celebrated during this Year of Kindness on campus.
“We have more in common than that which divides us," she said.