Heritage pupils perform an African dance in front of the entire student body.
Black History Month was observed in all four Westerville middle schools during February, when each building engaged in a number of activities designed to celebrate and enlighten.
Blendon Middle School hosted its first annual Concert and Fundraiser in celebration of Black History Month. A spaghetti dinner was served in the Westerville South High School Commons for more than 350 people. Following the meal, attendees adjourned to the auditorium where they were entertained by the 7th and 8th grade orchestra (conducted by John Vermeulen), the 6th grade choir (Kim Marcum), the 7th and 8th grade choir (Josh Ice), and the Jazz Band (Amy Levine). Nearly $2,000 was raised which will be used to purchase a new four-valve baritone, music, supplies and equipment for band, orchestra and choir programs. All participants and volunteers were thanked for their efforts, as was the Blendon PTO, the music staff at the high schools, the Westerville South Instrumental Music Boosters, the Blendon office staff, and the Blendon music staff. Special gratitude was expressed for the Piatt family for coming up with the idea, for donating and cooking all of the food, and for organizing volunteers who made the dinner run so smoothly.
During February, students from Genoa’s Black History Month Club, led by Social Studies Teacher Leslie Thompson, helped to create a playlist of significant African American contributors to music for airing each day over the loudspeaker. With the help of the Student Council, each seminar class created a piece of a large mural that highlighted important figures in Black History. Art teachers Erica Hinkle and Charles McCutcheon made a bulletin board of African American artists in the entryway. Students themed this year’s celebration Be the Light, based on a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Spirit Week was planned around this theme. Genoa pupils also participated in a Black History Month and Cultural Celebration program on Wednesday evening, February 27.
Heritage Middle School celebrated Black History with this year’s theme, Black Migrations, which emphasized the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and social realities. Throughout the month, students learned about prominent African Americans who were showcased during morning announcements. Pupils in Amber Northern’s class researched famous inventors and scientists. Posters of important Black American figures and key historical events were posted through the school, and all students participated in the National Council of Teachers of English National African American Read-In on February 27 through their English-Language Arts classes. On Thursday morning, February 28, all students were engaged in the 2019 Black History Assembly, with several groups participating under the direction of Heritage staff members Carmen Dobbins, Anne Bates, and Ester Owens. Pupils wrote and read poetry, sang, acted, danced and performed a fashion show through the decades. Public speaker Z.F. Taylor from Ikan4U, treated students to a narrative of the black migration and the history of the underground railroad on Africa Road in Westerville. The assembly concluded when choir director Kim Marcum and the 7th and 8th grade choir performed Jambo, and led the entire school in a singalong to Lift Every Voice.
Walnut Springs celebrated Black History Month with its third annual evening celebration. A standing-room-only crowd enjoyed numerous displays. Thanks to a generous $300 grant received by teacher Maria Soisson from the Westerville Education Foundation (WEF), students without transportation had the opportunity to attend. Present at the event was award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier, who spent the day with Walnut Springs students. His visit was funded through grants obtained by media specialist Jean Trimble from the Bette Marschall Foundation ($500), the WEF ($3,000) and the Walnut Springs PTSA ($300).The Walnut Springs and Otterbein Jazz Bands performed. Artwork by seventh and eighth grade students was on display throughout the building. Sixth graders made food relevant to black history so families got to taste samples all evening. Caterer Tonya Martin from Geno’s Recipes 2 Please donated traditional soul food for all who were present.