Thursday marked the beginning of Black History Month and an assembly involving two DMPS schools served as a rousing kickoff for a wide ranging February of study, discussion and celebration of the topic across the district at all levels.
Roosevelt High School’s Bridges2Harmony gospel choir went next door to perform at Hubbell Elementary and the event was a rousing start to a full calendar of observances planned there.
There will be guest speakers and classroom trivia contests. Study topics include the Little Rock 9 and Ruby Bridges. Experiments in segregation will be conducted. Every morning the Black National Anthem will play on the PA at Pledge of Allegiance and daily announcements time. A soul food staff lunch is in the works. Student artwork inspired by the theme is on display throughout the building and topical books have been added to the school library’s inventory. And on the last day of the month, students will march around the neighborhood on a Dream Walk.
But first things first.
There’s a poster on the wall in the Hubbell gym that outlines expectations for student behavior during assemblies. Voice Level 0 (quiet) out of respect for the presenter(s) is the biggie, and that’s an especially tough one at a concert by a gospel choir.
After Carrie Dunley-Carlson’s 2nd graders “opened” for B2H with a song that invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the Roosevelt choristers read a brief introduction about the history of Black History Month. Without further ado, the choir launched into its set.
Lift Every Voice set the tone. O,Mary, O, Martha was spirited. Say the Word was downright contagious. But the Hubbell kids politely restrained their impulses to clap and move in unison with their guests as long as they could.
During We Shall Overcome they even got to sing along on the final verse.
Sherrie Sauls is the office manager at Hubbell and she was a driving force behind this year’s plans for Black History Month, along with counselor Shay Maxwell and 5th grade teacher Geoff Love.
“I’ve been here for 17 years and this is going to be the most we’ve done yet,” said Sauls who was snapping photos and singing along at the assembly.
The last order of business was to introduce the former Hubbell students who are now singing seniors at Roosevelt. Eight of them stepped forward. There are sure to be more where they came from. A bunch would’ve signed up to audition on Thursday, given the chance.