Schools Throughout the District Celebrate Black History Month

Mason Muhammad Royal portrays famed scientist and inventor Dr. George Washington Carver in the Continental Colony Elementary School Black History Wax Museum.


The auditorium at Continental Colony Elementary School was transformed into an interactive, African American “wax museum” last week, as nearly 50 students posed as famous and influential African Americans in history.

The event is part of the school’s Black History Month celebration during the month of February. Continental Colony Principal Dr. Kristen Vaughn said the school always goes all out to pay homage to the great African American leaders and events of the past.

“Our school population is 98 percent African American. It is important for us to relate our history to our students,” Vaughn said. “If we don’t tell our stories, then who will? Also, we find that many of our parents learn a great deal from our programs and displays, and so it is good to know that we are educating the community as well.”

Tylar Woods portrays Atlanta’s first female mayor Shirley Franklin at the Continental Colony Elementary School Black History Wax Museum.

In the wax museum, students took on the persona of individuals such as Louis Latimer (scientist, inventor), Hosea Williams (civil rights leader), Andrew Young (former Atlanta mayor and Secretary to the United Nations), Sarah Boone (inventor of the ironing board), Mary McCloud Bethune (educator, stateswoman and civil rights leader) and Sojourner Truth (abolitionist and women’s rights advocate). Visitors pressed a “button” located on the hand of the statues/students, which caused them to move and quote interesting facts about the characters they were portraying.

The top winner/performer in the wax museum was Jade Evans for her portrayal of Sarah Boone. Other students receiving awards for their portrayals were Kayla Sanders as Mary McCloud Bethune, Serena Booker as Serena Williams, Christian Murray as Andrew Young, Kevin Rose at Hosea Williams, and Jayla Graham as Sojourner Truth.

Zaire Parris portrays brilliant scientist and inventor Louis Latimer at the Continental Colony Elementary School Black History Wax Museum.

Additionally, Continental Colony is continuing its annual tradition of decorating its entire foyer with homages to African American history.

Here are several other Black History Month celebrations occurring throughout Atlanta Public Schools (in chronological order):

Forrest Hill Academy | February 1-28
Students are filming a documentary titled “What Black History Means to Me.”

Grady High School | February 1-28
Teachers are incorporating African-American history facts throughout the curriculum, and a date for the annual Black history play is being developed.

Morningside Elementary School | February 1-28
Reading quotes or brief bios on morning announcements and on the school’s daily message board; Kindergarten does a unit of study on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and creates hallway bulletin boards in his honor; Kindergarten and first-grade students are being taught a song about Dr. King and will read “Martin’s Big Words”; Books related to African-American history and heroes are on display in the media center; Fifth graders will analyze quotes by Dr. King as an ELA assignment.

South Atlanta High School | February 1-28
Black history facts are broadcasted over the public address system during the day.

Morris Brandon Elementary School  | February 3-28
First Street: Students are invited to research an African American who was the “first” African American to achieve a specific accomplishment. The student will create a poster detailing the individual and his/her accomplishment. The posters will be on display in the school’s “First Street” exhibit.

Mary Lin Elementary School/Inman Middle School | February 11
Psi Phi Beta Step Team performs at the monthly “SPARK Saturday” at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. This month’s “SPARK Saturday” event teaches youth about African American culture through rhythm and movement, and illustrates how today’s music and dance movements are inspired by African traditions.

Whitefoord Elementary School | February 16
(Grades 3-5) Guest speaker Nettie Washington-Douglass, great, great granddaughter of Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass.

Young Middle School | February 20-24
“Celebrating Black History in Atlanta”: A series of performances and guest speakers throughout the week.

Bunche Middle School | February 23
“Sankofa – Go Back and Get It.” Performing arts performances featuring dance, drama and chorus.

Long Middle School | February 23
“Remember the Times”: Thematic, living timeline created by students, highlighting moments in African-American history.

Benteen Elementary School | February 24
Essay competition and family movie night.

Brown Middle School | February 24
“Sankofa”:The annual Black History Program (sankofa translates to “recovering or retrieving the past”).

Scott Elementary School | February 24
“Lift Every Voice”: The annual performing arts program for Pre-K through fifth grade.

Whitefoord Elementary School | February 24
Black History Bowl

Continental Colony Elementary School | February 28
Pantherville Poetry Café.

Hope Hill Elementary School | February 28
Annual Black History program.

West Manor Elementary School| February 28
Annual African-American history program.

Whitefoord Elementary School| February 28
Black History Performing Arts Program.









APS Celebrates Black History Month

Black History Month remains an important time to honor the heritage of African-Americans; and APS has some significant connections with the civil rights movement. Atlanta Public Schools has had many famous students, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lena Horne, Mayor Maynard Jackson, Nipsey Russell and others.

The district’s Museum Curator, Cathy Loving, sat down with us to give us a small glimpse into some of the connections that APS has with the civil rights movement in this video.

Cathy LovingClick image to view video

Mary Lin’s Native American Pow Wow

written by Jessica, 4th grader from Mary Lin Elementary School

IMG_1238Mary Lin Elementary’s fourth graders participated in a Native American Pow Wow, a celebration that includes dancing, singing, gifts and a feast. There could be many people at a Pow Wow, and they could celebrate a good harvest, a good hunt, a new birth or a marriage.

Our Pow Wow at Mary Lin was different. Most classes presented information about different tribes from different regions, like the Inuit, Pawnee, Seminole, Kwakiutl, Hopi, and Nez Perce. One class performed skits from old Native American tales. We also had a huge feast with food from many different tribes. We enjoyed learning about Native Americans and experiencing our own Native American Pow Wow!



Parkside’s Third Grade Class Visits Birmingham, AL!


On May 3rd, Parkside Elementary’s teacher, Mr. Timothy Farmer, and his third grade class journeyed to Birmingham, Alabama, as a culminating activity as they finished reading of The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. This award-winning historical fiction chronicles the life of a family who visits Birmingham for a summer trip and encounters the aftermath of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which took the lives of four young girls. The students, along with several parents, visited the church and the nearby Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Birmingham is currently commemorating a yearlong 50th anniversary observance of the Civil Rights Movement in the city. This trip was a great experience for the students as it provided an opportunity to bring history and classroom reading to life.

“The Boycott” performed at South Atlanta High School

IMG_2772IMG_2823The South Atlanta High School hosted a performance of the play “The Boycott” on February 28, 2013. The cast numbered over thirty actors, actresses, singers and dancers and the play highlighted events surrounding the bus boycott in Montgomery Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement.

“The Boycott” intermixed personal and group dynamics along with music, dance and monologues to illustrate the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a political and social protest campaign against the policy of racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. The campaign lasted from December 1, 1955 to December 20, 1956, when a federal ruling took effect and led to a United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses to be unconstitutional.

“The Boycott” is an intergenerational play featuring the students of South Atlanta High School, the Harriet Daniel Senior Center Dancing Divas and other members of the community. South Atlanta Drama Instructor Tia Cowart and South Atlanta High extend a special thanks to Ms. Gwen Hubbard and Ms. Joyce Lewis for bringing this project to South Atlanta High School!


Ellis Island Immigration Simulation at Morningside Elementary

Fifth graders at Morningside Elementary School participated in an Ellis Island Immigration Simulation on January 9th, 2013. As 5th graders learn about the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, they begin to correlate their history lessons with their own great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ experiences. Thus, history becomes more “real” to them. A poll taken by the students found that nearly 60% of them had family members who immigrated to the United States within the last three generations.

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 5.16.22 PMPrior to the simulation, students read a nonfiction book, “Immigrant Kids” by Russell Freedman, and created projects on a country of their own ancestry. Each student received an immigrant identity to role-play for the simulation and were required to create a nametag and a costume to portray that character. Students also wrote a letter as their character to a fictitious relative who was living in America. The letter expressed possible questions, fears, hopes, and dreams of their characters.  During the simulation, selected students played the role of processors and received training on how to question the immigrants and complete the required paperwork. Several processors acted as appeals judges who had to make decisions regarding deportation. All immigrants who “passed” the immigration process recited a loyalty oath and were welcomed to America!  The students thoroughly enjoyed this experience and many parents joined to witness the simulation.

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 5.15.37 PM

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 5.12.53 PMThe purpose of this activity is for students to experience what it may have been like for an immigrant to leave their home country and move to America with great hopes and dreams of a new life. The experience of fear and apprehension, while being processed through Ellis Island, helps students develop empathy and connects them with the experiences of their own ancestors. Every year, we have students who discover that their own grandparents or great-grandparents came through Ellis Island, and students even bring in photos and ship’s manifestos to share with the class. The simulation is a powerful culminating activity that often evokes emotion and leaves an impression.

“I thoroughly enjoyed watching the immigration event yesterday,” says Ginger Ross, a parent at Morningside. “It brought tears to my eyes to think of my own relatives’ experience. It has forced us to talk about these things as a family.”

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 5.14.00 PM

Next week, Atlanta Immigration Attorney Eileen Scofield is presenting to the students about immigration and citizenship. Students will also examine “10 Immigration Myths” in an activity provided by Teaching Tolerance.

Atlanta Public Schools Students Celebrate Black History Month

Below are highlights of how some of our APS schools and students celebrated Black History Month!

Beecher Hills Elementary students created a “Living Wax Museum” in the school media center where they portrayed famous African Americans from the present and past.  Parents and community members were invited to tour the museum throughout the day.

Beecher students strike a pose as wax figures in their Live Wax Museum

D.H. Stanton partnered with the City of Atlanta’s Public Works Department to educate students on the two most notable contributions of Garrett Morgan—the traffic light and the gas mask. A life-sized traffic light and pedestrian crossing signal were posted in the media center, and local firefighters provided a demonstration of how the gas mask and breathing apparatus are used to protect firefighters during fires.
Scott Elementary students celebrated Black History Month by creating an African American Quilt; decorating school walls with Footprints in Time—paper footprints with the names and contributions of students’ favorite African Americans written on them; a special luncheon featuring traditional African American foods on the menu; and a Black History Month program featuring the “Langston Hughes Poets,” and student portrayals of the Tuskegee Airmen and the Little Rock Nine.

Burgess Peterson Academy took their gardening lessons one step further with a skit about Benjamin Banneker! Students will perform a special encore presentation during the school’s next PTA meeting.

Banneker was a famous free African American astronomer, mathematician and farmer.

Parkside Elementary students participated in the Black History Quiz-Bowl where 5th graders took to the stage as contestants while students in the audience used ActiVotes from Promethean to provide “lifelines” and help contestants choose correct answers.

Principals at the D.M. Therrell Educational Complex honored Dr. Joseph Lowery at the schools’ auditorium dedication ceremony. The facility will be called the Dr. Joeseph E. Lowery Auditorium. The civil rights legend addressed Therrell students with words of encouragement during his acceptance speech.

Dr. Joseph Lowery with students at Therrell High School

How did your school celebrate Black History Month? Leave a comment below and we will add your story and photos to this blog post.