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February 2020
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February 2020

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Dear Twinsburg Schools’ Family,
Each February, our country celebrates Black History Month to honor African-Americans' achievements and contributions to society.  People and organizations across the country hold events to recognize pioneers such as Bessie Coleman, Mary McLeod Bethune and Paul L. Dunbar.  In its earliest form, the tradition is more than 90 years old.  Here is some interesting information about the origin of Black History Month…
According to International Business News, historian Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Week, which began on February 12, 1926. Mr. Woodson scheduled the commemoration at that time so that it matched up with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.  In 1976, Negro History Week became Black History Month. President Gerald Ford urged the public to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history." 
Twinsburg City School District students and staff will commemorate Black History Month through a variety of ways:
Wilcox Primary School
During Black History Month, Wilcox Primary School teachers embed the study of important African American figures to help students understand the impact African American people have had on our history.
display of student pictures and handprints 
Each week of February during their library time, Wilcox students will be introduced to a different group of famous African Americans such as: Civil Rights and Government Leaders, Inventors and Scientists, Entertainers, and Athletes - using biographies and literature.  Wilcox Media Assistant Mrs. Bell will utilize the Smart Board and other technology to engage students in discussions about these heroes.  Center activities will focus on the accomplishments of these and other famous Americans.

The Wilcox Art and Music teachers will also introduce students to famous historical figures in the creative arts during Black History Month.  For example, kindergarten students in Mrs. Wilner’s class will learn about and draw portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and then write about his “I Have a Dream” speech. 

During Music with Mrs. Bensie and Mrs. Thomas, students will be introduced to the impact of African-American musicians on the development of music in the United States. The teachers will read stories, show short video biographies, and have students listen to music as they discuss different instruments and the sound and feeling of musical pieces. Musicians that will be highlighted include:
  • African American spirituals-Ella Fitzgerald
  • Ragtime-Scott Joplin ("Maple Leaf Rag")-early 1900's
  • Blues-Leadbelly ("Baby Don't You Love Me No More")-1920's
  • Jazz-Louis Armstrong ("Struttin' With Some BBQ", “It’s a Wonderful World)-1930-40's
  • R&B-Chuck Berry ("Johnny B. Goode")-1950's
  • Gospel-Soul-Aretha Franklin ("Lee Cross")-1960-70's
  • Rap/Hip-Hop-1980's-present
  • Pop-Michael Jackson

 Many famous athletes in our country’s history were African American. During Physical Education classes, as students work on gross motor, hand/eye coordination, and sports development, teachers will explain the significant impact individuals like Jackie Robinson (baseball), Serena and Venus Williams (tennis), LeBron James and Lisa Leslie (basketball) and Jim Brown (football) have/had on their sport.  Students will practice with equipment such as balls, bats, batons, basketballs, and footballs as they proceed through stations designated for different athletes.  

Both Kindergarten and 1st Grade teachers will utilize many different methods of introducing students to famous historical figures during Black History Month. Through literature and short video clips from YouTube and United Streaming, Wilcox Primary School students will learn about the lives and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr. Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver. Study of these famous people aligns with the Ohio Learning Standards for social studies in the primary grades, specifically related to historical thinking, heritage, and civic participation. Teachers will wind the social studies standards into Scholastic News articles, shared reading, leveled guided reading groups, and written expression. For example, after learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., first graders will write their own version of “I Have a Dream”.  Students in Mrs. Littler’s and Mrs. Scolaro’s classes created vision boards with pictures and words about ways they can be kinder, things they want to learn, and ideas of skills they can improve.

poster displaying 2020 vision poster showing 2020 visions 
Posters displaying 2020 Visions on how to be kinder and things they want to learn

Journal writing and craft projects in both grades will focus on tolerance, inclusion, and acceptance of all.  Throughout the month of February, Wilcox Primary School students will gain a basic understanding of how African Americans had a significant impact on the history of our country.

Samuel Bissell Elementary School
All students at Samuel Bissell Elementary School participate in Black History Bingo. Teachers receive a Class Bingo Board and a list of famous African American figures. The list includes people from various areas including politics, the arts, science, sports, and entertainment. The class works together to place 16 names on their Class Bingo Board. Each morning, a description of a famous African American figure is read over the announcements. Students in each class listen for clues, and then work together using the Internet and other texts to figure out the correct person. As soon as a class has bingo, the office recognizes that class with school-wide announcements.  Teachers also have the option of copying enough boards for each student in his/her class so students can compete against each other.

Each class also participates in a Scavenger Hunt. Posters with facts, trivia, biographies, and other information are displayed throughout Samuel Bissell Elementary School. Teachers receive a sheet with descriptions of famous African American figures or events, such as Brown vs. Board of Education or The Little Rock Nine. The focus is on events or figures that may be lesser known to most elementary school students. Students work with their teachers to, first, read the information on the sheet, and then search for posters with the correct figures or events. Classes who complete the Scavenger Hunt correctly are entered into a drawing at the end of February. Teachers use these events as teaching tools for further exploration in the classroom.

Second/Third Grade Black History Month Activities:

Within the classroom, second and third grade students at Samuel Bissell Elementary School will be immersed in many fun learning activities during Black History Month. Third grade students will be completing African American History Reports in various ways.  After gathering research through books, videos, and websites, students will present the information they learned with Books Boxes, File Folder Reports, and posters. Second grade students will also choose a famous African American figure to research and write a biography, which will then be presented in the classroom.  Second and third grade students will also learn about famous individuals such as Frederick Douglass and Maya Angelou through watching videos on Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr. 

Finally, many third grade classes will be reading and discussing great books such as Henry's Freedom Box, Follow the Drinking Gourd and The Other Side.  Other groups will complete Web Quests, create timelines, present Reader Theater presentations and listen to music to learn about African American culture.  Samuel Bissell Elementary School students are looking forward to many fun experiences and learning a lot during Black History Month!

George G. Dodge Intermediate School
At George G. Dodge Intermediate School, Language Arts activities have been provided to all English/Language Arts teachers.  The materials include two or three readers’ theater scripts.  These include stories about famous African-Americans and/or significant events involving African- Americans over the years.  In addition to the scripts, four or five activities related to Black History Month have been included.  Various language arts skills are developed through these activities.  Each grade level has received different scripts and activities so that our students are not completing/learning the same things from year to year.

Each day in February, there will be a slide on the morning announcements highlighting a famous African-American. The individuals highlighted this year are new to the slide show.  After this year, there will be a 3-year slideshow that will introduce our students to approximately 50 different African-Americans throughout their three years at Dodge.

As students travel through the hallways of the school, they will be exposed to a variety of displays and bulletin boards. The Black History displays and bulletin boards will feature Coretta Scott King Award winning books as well as African Americans throughout history in a variety of categories. These categories include athletes, leaders, scientists, inventors, authors and musicians. It is our hope that these displays will help to encourage students to learn more about the contributions of African American pioneers and contemporary leaders.

RB Chamberlin Middle School
RB Chamberlin Middle School is planning many exciting activities for Black History Month.  As always, the office staff will be hosting “Black History Trivia” on the announcements with prizes and awards for the students.  Our 7th graders will participate in activities such as writing “found” poems after watching the “I Have a Dream” speech, researching African American Scientists, determining the scale factor of statues commemorating the Civil Rights movement in math, and reading parts of the Little Rock Nine and other writings using extreme paired reading strategies.

8th grade students will be reading a culmination of primary source readings, including the MLK speech, Sojourner Truth, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and studying Civil Rights leaders such as Rosa Parks and more.  Science students will read about Henrietta Lacks and discuss scientific racism and medical ethics, and view a PowerPoint on African American scientists, and English/Language Arts students will celebrate through the works of Jane Elliot, Clifton Taulbert, and John Lewis.  Activities will also be planned for music and art students, such as studying African Spirituals and African-American composers.

Twinsburg High School
Twinsburg High School has multiple and varied activities planned to celebrate and recognize the many achievements of those individuals who have impacted our lives and culture as a nation.  However, high school students began their celebration earlier in the school year with the Black History Club sponsoring a student panel made up of African American alumni who spoke to current students about the college application process, college life, and specifically what Historically Black Colleges and Universities have to offer.  The club also attended a Martin Luther King, Jr. program at Kent State University/Twinsburg earlier this month.  During February, however, the Black History Club will create an ongoing tribute in the main showcase at the high school featuring a display that includes the Pan African colors and famous quotes and pictures from important moments in Black History.  In collaboration with the Pep Club (demonstrating an integration of the celebration with our entire school community), the A, B, C, and L Pods will also be decorated in Pan African colors and inspirational quotes will be placed on lockers.

Twinsburg High School staff and students will begin their recognition on February 3, 2020 when, during morning announcements, a moment of silence will pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, his daughter and the other lives that were lost in the recent helicopter crash.  Students and staff will be invited to wear either Kobe Bryant’s jersey, Laker’s gear, or purple and gold to represent this tribute symbolically.  The intention is to connect past and recent accomplishments and ensure that the celebration is relevant and timeless.

On Monday, February 10, 2020, students will have the opportunity to share visually what they are proud of as it relates to Black History.  A large poster/banner will state "I Am Proud To Be..." and students will be able to voice their thoughts during all lunches.  During that same week (February 10th – 13th),

Twinsburg High School will hold a Spirit Week that highlights the Pan African Colors - Monday is Red, Tuesday - Green, Wednesday - Yellow and Thursday - Black or a Commemorative T-Shirt (provided for a cost by the Black History Club).  On Wednesday, February 19th, during all lunches, samples of soul food desserts will be available for interested students/staff during the Taste of Soul event.  Finally, on Saturday, February 29th, the Black History Club will participate in the Twinsburg Historical Society's Black History Program.

Although the shortest month of the year, February is set to be filled with many interesting and engaging learning opportunities for our students as we pause to reflect upon the contributions of many outstanding individuals during Black History Month.

I hope to see you soon at one of our many District events!

Go Tigers!
Kathi Powers, Superintendent

Kathryn Powers
Administrative Assistant:
Marianne Franko
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