By Tracy King-Holmes
As a school that embraces and celebrates the differences in our students, exposing them to the contributions that African Americans made in the past and continue to make is important.
In Burgess-Peterson Academy’s (BPA) quest to become an International Baccalaureate World School, we are charged with encouraging students to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, also can be right. What better way to do this other than celebrating African Americans and others of the past and present who made contributions that changed and continue to change the fabric of America.
Our students showcased many talents. There was beautiful singing, interpretive dance, and spoken word. Homage was paid to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Aretha Franklin, Garrett A. Morgan, Abraham Lincoln, Maya Angelou, Sojourner Truth, Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Common, and John Legend.
The theme of the program was “A Passport Into Black History.” Morgan Copeland, a fifth-grade student kept the show rolling with oratorical skills. The BPA Chorus sang a song called Over My Head, I Hear Music. Our Pre-K and Kindergarten classes also sang songs about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our first-grade students presented 26 facts about black history with the ABCs of Black History. Second-grade offered a musical presentation called Freedom by Beyonce featuring Kendrick Lamar.
Third and fourth graders dropped knowledge on us from Still I Rise, Ain’t I A Woman, and Hey Black Child. Minelli Sargent portrayed Aretha Franklin with her very own snippet of “Respect” and gave a brief history of the Queen of Soul’s life. Lataious Stepp spoke about the invention of the gas mask and the traffic light by Garrett A. Morgan. Jack Warner was President Lincoln and recited the Emancipation Proclamation. Thomas Glanton spoke from the I Have a Dream speech that moved the audience to thunderous applause.
Interpretive dance is a form of modern dance in which the dancer’s movements depict an emotion or tell a story. Aniya McIver, Jelinde Malone, Alyssia Waller, Taylor Hart, and Kamille Willis are members of the BPA Dance Ensemble. They all danced gracefully to Black Butterfly by Deniece Williams. Their moves depicted struggle, pain, and the joy of eventual freedom.
To bring our program to a close, students from fifth grade performed the song “Glory” by John Legend and Common. Cam’Ron Barber led this song, and Treasure Capers, Emilia Cartee, Zora Dadeah, Austin Stanford, and Phillip Legend helped with background vocals.
Our students’ voices made a difference. Giving children a voice promotes self-esteem and self-worth. By giving children a voice through choice, feelings, and emotions, children develop and learn that they are truly important and valued. I feel blessed working with the students here at BPA.