By Lauren Shum
Do you know who Odetta Holmes was? Marvin Gaye? The Staple Singers? If you’ve seen the bulletin board by the social studies hallway, the answer should be a snap. For the entire month of February, in celebration of Black History Month, the bulletin board sported pictures of and information on influential black musicians. Organized by the African American Culture Club (AACC), the bulletin board was meant to celebrate the achievements of African Americans and shed light on the importance of music during the civil rights movement.
The themed celebration ended up being truly month-long—two firsts in the history of the club. In previous years, the AACC had only organized a one-time event or activity, and it was usually centered on a broad, general topic. This year, various activities were spread throughout the month and centered around the theme of music. The activities even tied in with the club’s musical contribution to the Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly. “There were obviously lots of choices, but we didn’t want to do something so cookie-cutter,” said senior Isabelle T., co-president of the AACC along with senior Jocelyn H. “I mean, everyone knows about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, but not many people know about black musicians.”
In addition to compiling the bulletin board, the AACC created a trivia challenge and played music over the PA system in between periods on Friday, Feb. 10. Isabelle was primarily responsible for putting together the bulletin board, deciding which musicians should be profiled and, with the help of club members, gathering information for the display. Jocelyn prepared the music that was played in between periods. “The students really did the bulk of [the work],” said social studies teacher Ms. Frances Tria, the AACC’s club advisor. “They created the bulletin board, they created the music. They totally created the trivia quiz—I had nothing to do with that.”
The trivia challenge was another first this year. Each morning the week of Feb. 13, all homeroom teachers received five-question quizzes in their mailboxes. During homeroom, students worked together to answer the questions about black musicians. The prize? A free breakfast, courtesy of the AACC. Conducted for the purpose of getting students to look at the bulletin board, the quizzes consisted exclusively of information found on the board. Those who internalized the information, of course, had a better shot at the free breakfast.
The challenge was successful overall, though some classes did not participate. In the end, the winner was social studies teacher Ms. Michelle Sorise’s second period class. Last week, the class enjoyed their complimentary breakfast of bagels with butter, cream cheese, and orange juice.
In future years, the club looks to expand participation in the Black History Month celebration and plans on continuing the themed activities. Next year’s theme might be black atheletes, or perhaps black scientists. Isabelle said, “We’ll get it eventually—it will be a big thing. That’s our goal.”