Black History Month in February is an opportunity for Peck teachers and administrators to elevate their focus on the achievements and history of Black Americans, and promote a deeper appreciation and understanding of Black history and culture.
“While our goal is to weave Black history and culture (as well as history and perspectives from cultures all around the world) into our curriculum year-round, this month calls us to put that extra emphasis on how the experiences, history, and contributions of Black Americans have influenced our past, present, and future,” said Head of School Andy Delinsky.
Throughout the month, students learned from their peers during two student-led assemblies about Black History Month, enjoyed two meals inspired by Black history and culture in the dining hall, and dove into classroom lessons infused with the relevance, importance, and meaning of this month.
During one of the student-led assemblies, eighth-grade Cultural Ambassadors Adi Somayi and Andy Kapp talked about the origins of Black History Month and shared the 88 Brains video “The ABCs of Black History
.” Fourth grader Marvin Zu also shared facts about Poet Amanda Gorman, and, with second grader Sage Herring, shared excerpts from Gorman’s book Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem.
At another assembly, Peck’s Instrumental Ensemble played four chorales from Dr. Quincy Hilliard’s Eight Chorales for Elementary Band.
In the classroom, lessons highlighting Black culture and history were sprinkled throughout the month, and took shape and form in myriad ways, from studying historical figures to hands-on projects. Just a few examples are:
In art classes, kindergartners made valentines inspired by Alma Thomas, the first Black woman artist to have work acquired by the White House, and fourth graders dove into a special “Celebrating Black Artists” mini-unit that focused on influential artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Amy Sharald, and more.
In their homerooms, third graders were greeted daily by slides highlighting Black historical figures, which the class read aloud and discussed during Morning Meeting. Second graders listened to their teachers read a number of children’s books, including More Than Peach by Bellen Woodward, which led to a crayon activity called “The Unique Colors of Us.” And first graders learned about influential figures in Black American history, such as Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, and Claudette Colvin.
In science classes, sixth graders discussed NASA’s Artemis Project (which will also land the first woman and person of color on the moon) and its participating astronauts. In history classes, seventh and eighth graders selected a Black public figure (either contemporary or historical) to research and present to classmates.
Outside of the classroom, students enjoyed a nod to Black History Month with two special menus as part of Peck’s year-round “Lunch Around The World” partnership with FLIK dining. The partnership aims to cultivate global awareness with regular meals and table discussion inspired by heritage and cultural recognitions as well as holidays.
For Black History month’s special menus, we served an Afro-Caribbean-inspired meal of jerk chicken; rice with kale, carrots, rice, and black beans; and fried sweet plantains for dessert. The following week students enjoyed a Soul Food-inspired meal of smothered pork, collard greens, cornbread, and peach cobbler for dessert.
“So much culture is shared and experienced through music, story, and food,” said Upper School History Teacher and DEIB Coordinator Alex Soudah. “That’s why it’s so important that we recognize cultural heritage months throughout the year.”