Breathing life into black history at the Academy

Rayjon Davis acts as President Barack Obama in the Academy at Middle Fork's Living Wax Museum.

Breathing life into black history at the Academy
March 07
08:24 2019

By Darron Daniels, Jr.

During the month of February, the Appalachian State University Academy at Middle Fork Elementary School celebrated Black History Month through song, dramatic play, daily trivia, door decorations, a historically black college and university research presentation, a local radio personality visit, and a living wax museum.

Students from kindergarten to fifth grade classes created, researched, and produced projects on prominent and lesser-known black inventors, athletes, civil rights leaders, activists, politicians, and entrepreneurs. The literacy lab school’s theme for the month, “A World Without Color,” provided students with insight on the contributions and legacies of individuals such as Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, Ruby Bridges, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Children need to understand and know their history in order to understand where they are going. Therefore, it was important for us here at the Academy to start a tradition of celebrating who we are and the endless possibilities of where we can go,” stated Verschello M. Nelson, assistant principal.

Other keynote events that took place at the Academy included a presentation from Renee Vaughn, 97.1 QMG radio personality, and a student-led evening program for families that demonstrated what daily life would be like without the inventions of African-Americans. “Our students were highly engaged while they explored and connected their past to their present,” said Ms. Johnson, fifth grade teacher.

The event, named after the month’s theme, contained musical performances of influential and inspirational songs including “We Shall Overcome,” “Respect,” “Glory,” and the national black anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” “I felt that kids needed to know how important music was in helping African-Americans get through the tumultuous times of the past,” stated April Whitfield, music teacher.

The culminating event held on February 28 was a living wax museum in which the school’s fourth and fifth graders brought the historic figures that they spent the month learning about to life. With dozens of poster boards, costumes, and fact sheets written in first-person, students in younger grades were able to interact with their peers by placing coins into cups near display boards to activate their famous person’s narrative.

Alicia Kinzer, a first grade teacher who served on the Academy’s Black History Month committee, affirmed, ”It was a good experience for students and me to be able to focus on influential African-Americans who paved the way for all people of diverse cultures.”

As students carry the torch of citizenship in their future families and becoming community leaders, they came to appreciate the famous statement: “If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”

“We are fortunate at the Academy to have a diverse population of students and parents who embrace education and are committed to learning together, “ stated Wanda McLemore, fourth grade teacher.

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