Inspiring Stories, Music, Performance, & Poetry at Black History Assembly
After welcoming students, families, and guests, Head of School Mark Stanek explored the idea of history as story. “The work,” Mark emphasized, “is to recognize everyone’s story. To understand whose story is being told, listened to, and responded to." Mark rang a powerful note saying, "Let’s be clear: we are making history each day. While Black history is celebrated in February, it is something to be celebrated all year.”
The three “All Sings” amplified this message. Each song had been embraced during the Civil Rights Movement by Freedom Riders, Freedom Singers, and people demonstrating the injustice of discrimination. Before each song, Shady Hill administrators Erica Pernell, Dr. Kim Parker, and Phyllis Grant shared a story about the song that provided context. (Click here for the introductions.) Putting the songs in context added power and meaning to the All Sings.
Renowned storyteller and guest speaker Len Cabral focused his stories on the importance of building bridges and the power of working together. The student performances broadened the Assembly’s messages. In response to Len Cabral’s poem celebrating Dr. Seuss and Miles Davis, the Gold Jazz Band performed Miles Davis’ All Blue. The Kindergartners showed a video they had made called Upstanders thatdescribes principles and behaviors at the heart of being an upstander. Grade VI performed Kwame Alexander’s powerful poem, The Undefeated. Grade V delivered a compelling, heartfelt recitation and performance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's. I Have a Dream speech. A group of eighth-graders filmed and produced a video in which they asked Shady Hill students, teachers, and staff members to respond to the question, “What does Black History Month mean to you?” And three seventh-graders from the Hip-Hop Songwriting class (Maggie Crowley, Sophia George, and Kamen Kaleb) performed original rap lyrics to Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing.
Thanks to all the students, gradeheads, staff, and administrators who worked for months to make the Assembly especially poignant and to ensure that it reflects the School’s deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.