NEW ROCHELLE, NY — With song and dance, arts and crafts, and novels offered by the authors who wrote them, schools throughout the District celebrated Black History Month at New Rochelle High School last Saturday.
The Jefferson Elementary School Special Chorus sang about the Underground Railroad. The Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center Kindergarten Chorus and the New Rochelle High School Renaissance Choir were also among the performers.
It was the sixth annual Black History Month Celebration presented by the Westchester Alliance of Black School Educators (WABSE) and the Black History Month Committee, with support from the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence and the New Rochelle Council on the Arts.
“It’s always important to come together and celebrate culture and heritage,” said Candace Pinn, President of WABSE and a teacher at Barnard. “The larger idea is to really integrate the teaching of our history, which began with slavery in this country and brought us to this place. There’s no other way to get us on the same page to see where we need to go.”
Hundreds of community members filed into the high school to peruse the artwork, crafts and books outside the Whitney M. Young Jr. Auditorium, and to enjoy the shows in the theater. NRHS students offered face painting to the event’s attendees. Students helped with set up and clean up, sold pizza, t-shirts, snacks and refreshments, served as hosts and guides, coordinated the scavenger hunt and quilting craft activity for younger students and offered face painting.
Academic awards were bestowed upon NRHS students Ruby Hastie and Randall St. Louis. Middle school honors were given to Jathiya Abiff and Christopher Tuck of Isaac E. Young Middle School, and Sydney Brice and Kwadwo Osarfo-Akoto of Albert Leonard Middle School.
Writers on-hand included Hugh B. Price, former president of the National Urban League and author of This African-American Life; Christopher John Farley, a journalist and author who wrote the novel Gameworld, a young-adult adventure that draws on myths from the Caribbean; Kathy “KP” Carter, author of Summertime with Lizzie B. Hayes; and NRHS alumnus Simeon Marsalis with his debut novel, As Lie is to Grin.
The professional group, Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, added several performances. The company included kids of all ages and they gave the New Rochelle students models to look up to.
“The kids related to, and were fascinated by, these performers,” Pinn said. “We’re looking to make it even better next year.”