Six-time Apollo winner and New Wave finalist TyShawn Colquitt performs a Motown number with the Blendon Middle School Choir
Black History Month was celebrated creatively in many Westerville middle schools. Blendon collaborated with a local performance education program called S.T.A.R.S., led by Chris Powell, an accomplished producer and performer who has worked with legends such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé. The toe-tapping, finger-snapping assembly focused on Motown, with a multitude of musical numbers played for a packed gymnasium by the 7th and 8th grade choir (directed by Chelsey Campbell), jazz band (directed by Amy Levine) and orchestra (directed by John Vermeulen). They performed with singers and musicians in the S.T.A.R.S. program.
On Tuesday, February 27, Walnut Springs Middle School hosted its second annual Black History Month celebration. Families and community members were treated to inspiring art, music and more. Art teachers Robin Trueman and Bryan Prugh coordinated an interactive gallery-walk of student art that spanned across the lobby, through the hallway and around the entire perimeter of the cafeteria. Band teacher Jordi Villanova directed several songs with the school jazz band. Choir teacher Jill Ledford coordinated and directed the performance of several songs from award-winning author Doreen Rappaport’s books about African-American history and the struggle and triumph from slavery to emancipation and the Civil Rights movement. Librarian Jean Trimble provided a video compilation of student broadcasts from WOLF TV and Spirit Club members. And several students performed original works in the performance-cafe area. More than two hundred people enjoyed the visual, musical and lyrical festivities as well as the amazing soul food and desserts provided by Tanya Martin. As a special treat, Rappaport read from two of her books after having spent the entire day meeting with all 8th grade students, a couple classes of 7th graders, and Spirit Club members.
To honor Black History at Heritage, staff and students participated in several activities throughout the month. On February 15, Heritage hosted its third annual Black History and Random Acts of Kindness assembly. The 6th, 7th and 8th grade choirs performed What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. Pupils read poetry and put on a fashion show featuring music, styles and cultures from six African countries and America. A student African dance group and the Husky dance team club performed two dance numbers. Sprinkled throughout the assembly was a “Who’s Who in African American History” contest and video clips of students and staff shouting each other out for kind acts to promote and celebrate Random Acts of Kindness month.
In addition to classroom activities, Genoa Middle School held multiple small group conversations during lunches about school culture, how to celebrate Black History throughout the year, and the African American experience in school.