Black History Month a time to reflect for school district

Black History Month, or African-American History Month, has been used as a time for education, celebration and reflection in public schools on Mercer Island.

“Through the month of February, each of our schools has participated in learning activities that reflect upon and recognize the achievements of African-Americans in our country and in our communities,” said Mercer Island School District Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano. “While this type of recognition is thoroughly integrated into our studies year-round, this month gives us a special opportunity to highlight the history and importance of African-Americans and events in our history.”

West Mercer Elementary students began their lessons in January with classroom-based activities about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. Those lessons culminated in the Heritage and Culture Fair. Each elementary school has been making a variety of announcements in the morning and two had assemblies that included artistic presentations – one a play featuring a friendship between an African-American soldier and a young white boy and the other designed to honor King. Students at Island Park and Lakeridge Elementary also read and discussed biographies of famous African-Americans including Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.

At Islander Middle School, announcements were made each morning highlighting famous African-Americans and their impact on history. Teachers have also focused classroom instruction time providing greater learning on those figures.

BRIDGES groups at Mercer Island High School have spent the month on student-led lessons focusing diversity, culture and kindness. English courses have used classroom time to review many of the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. American Literature students read "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", exploring the text in the context of the Civil War and the antebellum South. At Crest, students have been reading short stories by African-American authors Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston while discussing the Harlem Renaissance.

These activities highlight only a few that students participated in to celebrate Black History Month.


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