Proud to be one of the most diverse and inclusive school communities in Chicago, we celebrated Black history in February with a month of lessons and activities
“Black history is American history,” Head of School Mercedes Z. Sheppard said. “We are in the fabric and backbone of every aspect of American culture. Our struggles and triumphs have influenced every area of American history, from music and literature to education and politics.
“One of my favorite poets, Maya Angelou, said it best: ‘Won’t it be wonderful when Black history and Native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one books? Just U.S. history.’
“I am proud and excited to be a part of a community that strives to celebrate our history every day of the year.”
Throughout the school, students of all ages tackled research projects about Black history, creating presentations and/or artwork to share the stories with their classmates, including:
Kindergarten students learned about and practiced the techniques of Black artists Christian Robinson and the late Alma Woodsey Thomas.
First-graders created postage stamps spotlighting Black leaders and learned “Free at Last” and “Follow the Drinking Gourd” in music class.
Second grade participated in a host of activities including creating a class quilt after reading “The Patchwork Path,” a book based on a story given to Jacqueline Tobin by African-American quilter Ozella McDaniel Williams at the historic Charleston, S.C., marketplace in 1994. The story, about how enslaved people used quilts to communicate on the Underground Railroad had been passed down orally from grandmother to mother to daughter. The story was held secret in Ozella’s family until she insisted that Jacqueline capture it for posterity. “The Patchwork Path” is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the many enslaved people who risked everything to gain their freedom.
Third grade played a “Jeopardy!” trivia game and hosted a Black history and culture fair, featuring projects and presentations from influential figures in the worlds of music, sports, hair care, food, Black sororities and fraternities, and more.
Third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders watched a collection of short films from Facets called “Black Voices: Setting the Bar,” while sixth-graders watched “African-American Lives: Leaders and Legacies.”
Fourth grade designed their own Kente cloth patterns and also read poems by Langston Hughes.
Fifth grade did research projects on the Black history of Chicago’s South Side.
In sixth-grade history, students began each class by reading and discussing inspiration quotes from Black Americans. They discussed how the quotes related to our own lives and made a bulletin board filled with our favorite ones.
Seventh-graders drew portraits for a Black History Month wall of fame and Ms. Burgess’s advisory created a “virtual museum.”
Eighth-grade art students created portraits of historical figures, inspired by artist Kerry Jams Marshall.
Middle School science students did research projects in science class on Black people in STEM fields.
Upper School Arts Council conducted a month-long Instagram series about Black inventors, politicians, musicians, activists, and artists, culminating with a trivia game among Upper School students.
Spanish 4 and 5 Honors classes watched the documentary series “Black in Latin America,” which discusses historical and modern struggles of Afro-Latinos in various Latin American countries. They discussed how modern racial struggles reflect historical contexts, compared racial struggles of the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, and Peru to those of the United States, the internalization of negative stereotypes, and social progress.