Commemorating Black History Month
February is a time to reflect on the contributions of amazing African Americans, from Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to President Barack Obama, and Severn School teachers don’t disappoint.
The Upper School English Department's Public Speaking elective class spent three class periods on a rhetorical analysis of Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech. “The students have a much better understanding of the historical context of the speech and thus its rhetorical significance,” reflected Dr. Jackie Baugh. “We began with a look at the transcript of the official program for the March on Washington which documented the span of Civil Rights Leaders who spoke that day. Additionally, the author of our text, The Art of Public Speaking, named "I Have a Dream" as the top speech of the century!”
Mrs. Cathy Carper’s 6th grade geography class will watch the film The Ernest Green Story and learn about what conditions were like for the Little Rock Nine, a group of courageous black students who enrolled in a previously all-white Arkansas high school. As the oldest member of the Little Rock Nine, senior Ernest Green withstood harassment and restrictive conditions for a chance to get a better education and uphold our constitution.
Students in grade 2 through 5 have learned a West African song called Fanga Alafia in both the native language and English, reported Mrs. Beverly van Joolen. The translation is...
Welcome to everyone, with open arms
Peace, love, good will to you, we're glad you've come!
“We talked about how the words to the song reflect the core of Martin Luther King's message. Our second grade students also learned to accompany themselves on the Djembe (African drum) and the 3rd grade students learned to accompany themselves on their recorders! Our 5th grade students are also learning the song Yes I Can! to celebrate President Obama's message of how we can all do our share to make the world a better place.”
Mrs. van Joolen is also teaching her 4th and 5th grade students about the works of African American jazz and RnR greats - Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, composer Scott Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard and Michael Jackson.
Second graders are also researching famous people in honor of Black History Month in Mrs. Kristin Long and Mrs. Jackie Schubert’s Chesapeake Campus classrooms. “After each student has researched his/her selected individual, they will compose a mock interview,” explained Mrs. Long. “The students will write out the questions and the responses that their famous person may have said by using what they learned.”
Students in Arts Principles, the introduction to visual arts for ninth graders, are studying the fundamentals of color theory and printmaking by creating linoleum block prints, shared Mrs. Mary Ellen Carsley. "The block prints are in the form of quilt squares and are inspired by the Gee's Bend Quilters
“While, Black History Month provides the opportunity to showcase and celebrate these accomplishments, Severn believes it is important to learn about and appreciate African American history and African Americans who have made positive changes to our society all year round. In addition to the sampling of activities described above, there are assemblies and reflective activities that occur as well during Black History month and beyond," added Academic Dean Ms. Lise Charlier.