Throughout February, students across campus celebrated Black History Month, learning how Black Americans have contributed to and continue to influence history, society, and culture. In each division, the faculty incorporated Black history into the curriculum in various ways.
North Campus students welcomed The Reverend Dorothy Wells to Chapel to discuss the importance of inclusivity and kindness. The Reverend Wells serves as the Rector at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Germantown and is the mother of St. Mary’s alumnae Meredith ’15 and Alexis ’12. During Chapel, she shared the story of Ruby Bridges, the first Black student to desegregate an all-white New Orleans elementary school. The Reverend talked about the kindness of Bridges’ teacher, Mrs. Henry, who taught Bridges alone for an entire year when other teachers and parents refused to share a classroom with Bridges.
Lower School students learned about influential Black Americans through research assignments. Second graders in Mrs. Collier’s class completed a Black history study, learning about 13 historical Black figures. Each girl recorded what she learned in a Black History Journal. Second grade students also selected a book about a famous Black American to read and presented an oral report to their class.
Third graders conducted an independent research project. They first selected a history-making Black American to research. They then used available databases to complete their research. They gathered what they learned and presented the information on a card with an illustration and biographical paragraph. The students displayed their work in the Timeline of Greatness, a learning tool for all who pass it in the hallway. The timeline features people with diverse skills and accomplishments, including Bessie Coleman, Medgar Evers, Sidney Poitier, Maya Angelou, Beyonce, Serena Williams, and many more.
On South Campus, Middle School Spanish students enjoyed a performance celebrating Afro-Latin music and culture. The students learned about the African origins of musical genres from the Caribbean and Latin America while dancing and singing to the music of Las Bompleneras, a Bomba and Plena group from Chicago, IL.
The Black Student Alliance (BSA) punctuated Black History Month with a meaningful discussion during Chapel focused on the history of the portrayal of Black women in the media. They spoke about how roles for Black women in TV and film are limited to harmful stereotypes that date back to slavery and Jim Crow. These roles are often degrading and used for comedic effects.
“The media is a powerful source of information, so if the majority of information that people are promoting about a group of people are harmful stereotypes, the cycle keeps going,” shared a BSA member. The girls went on to recognize Black women breaking boundaries and representing Black women positively and accurately in the media. They celebrated Black EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winners such as Jennifer Hudson and Viola Davis. Our girls did a fantastic job emphasizing the need for better representation of Black women.
While the month of February is designated to honor the achievements of Black leaders, heroes, and changemakers, the study of Black history is not limited to one month. Through the curriculum and course offerings, teachers include positive portrayals of Black men and women in lessons throughout the year, further highlighting important Black historical figures and exploring the Black experience.
- Early Childhood
- Lower School
- Middle School
- Upper School