February is national Black History Month, and Norfolk Academy's Lower School students learned about and honored the many accomplishments of African Americans.
Students participated in a chapel on February 27, in which first and second graders spoke in front of the entire Lower School about 17 different African Americans. Their list included Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and Wilma Rudolph.
Teachers also led lessons in their classrooms throughout the month. Students across the grades researched civil rights leaders and presented their findings back to their peers in a variety of creative ways.
Among the many projects:
- Second grade teacher Valerie Thornton wrote a play titled Rosa Sat, Martin Walked, and Barack Ran So I Can Fly, which her students performed to families and fellow students on February 13. The play highlighted the achievements of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama.
- All second graders completed assignments considering this driving question: How can one person inspire and bring about change? Each student read a biography on a civil rights leader, took notes on the individual's life and accomplishments, then wrote a report. They finished by illustrating and presenting their reports to their homeroom class. The papers were displayed in the Cooper Library.
- Sixth graders completed Person of the Day assignments in which they researched and reported on dozens of figures, some famous and some not as well-known. The list included Mae Jemison (the first black woman to go into space), activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, and Ralph Bunche (a diplomat who won the Nobel Peace Prize). Students noted their accomplishments and interesting facts about them; students also shared life lessons they learned through their research.
- After studying various African Americans, Janice Simone's fourth graders made puppets that represented them and placed them in the hallway alongside their accomplishments. Learning through reading, writing, and art helped information sink in. Just before spring break, students proudly shared the knowledge they'd gained.
“They're role models," Kesar Behl said.
“We're all people and we should all be treated the same," Annabelle Mortimer added.