Black History Month 2024
- Culture Appreciation
Celebrate Black History Month with Federal Way Public Schools this February—a time dedicated to honoring the rich contributions and legacy of African Americans.
FWPS Honors Black History Month
Celebrate Black History Month with Federal Way Public Schools this February—a time dedicated to honoring the rich contributions and legacy of African Americans. Our schools are buzzing with excitement as we immerse ourselves in a month-long celebration filled with inspiring assemblies, captivating art projects, soulful musical performances, and more. We invite you to join us in commemorating these impactful experiences that shape our collective identity.
As we delve into the festivities, it's not just about the events themselves. We are on a mission to make equity a fundamental part of our daily instruction. Our commitment extends beyond February, ensuring that every scholar sees themselves reflected in their learning journey and experiences a profound sense of belonging within our school walls.
At FWPS, we firmly believe that diversity is a strength—a tapestry woven with the valuable contributions of our African American and historically underrepresented students. Regardless of their ethnicity, we instill in our students the understanding that Black History is an integral part of the American story. Our classrooms echo with the sentiment that learning about and celebrating all cultures enriches the educational experience for everyone.
Our dedication to fostering inclusivity doesn't end with Black History Month. Throughout the year, FWPS is devoted to dismantling barriers to academic achievement and providing culturally responsive instruction. We invite you to explore additional recognitions and events in the FWPS Cultural & Religious Calendar, embracing the diversity that defines our educational community: https://www.fwps.org/culturalcalendar
Olympic View K-8 kicks off Black History Month celebration with a scholar-led school assembly
In Federal Way Public Schools, scholars are diving into exciting events and activities for Black History Month all throughout February. Olympic View K-8 kicked off the month with a fantastic assembly led by our own students!
The assembly was a special time where scholars celebrated and learned about Black history through songs, presentations, poems, and videos. Scholars from different grades and classrooms came together on stage to share what they've learned.
Olympic View 5th-grade scholars did a fantastic job introducing each part of the assembly, while 1st graders wowed everyone with a song about Martin Luther King, Jr. that got lots of applause. Other 5th graders presented about important figures like Muhammad Ali, Bessie Coleman, and Rosa Parks.
Mrs. Roldan’s 3rd graders shared a powerful poem called “Rosa Sat,” which taught about the bravery of Rosa Parks and how her actions inspired others like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama.
To wrap up the assembly, scholars learned about the Black National Anthem and sang along with Ms. Dahlstrom’s 6th graders.
This amazing event wouldn't have been possible without the help of our school's equity task force. They worked alongside students and teachers to make sure everyone could be a part of this important celebration. Instructional Coach Sharon Tabalbag told us why events like this matter: "It’s so important for all students to experience something like this and be a part of it. Because it’s about involving the students, the class, and the whole school community. It helps teach and integrate these lessons and history into the students’ lives."
At FWPS, we believe in inclusivity and learning from each other's stories. We're excited to share more stories like this throughout Black History Month and beyond, as we celebrate and honor all cultures in our community.
Federal Way High School Scholars Dive into Black History Month Through Presentations, Podcasts, and Art
At Federal Way High School, Black History Month isn't just a date on the calendar. It's a vibrant tapestry woven through class learning activities such as presentations, podcasts, and even the school library, reflecting the diverse community it serves.
In Mr. Jowenson and Ms. Clark's classes, scholars embarked on journeys to uncover the stories of remarkable Black figures. Ms. Clark's Introduction to Health Careers class transformed into a gallery of historical heroes in their assignment “Influential Black People in Health and Medicine.” Scholars created posters bursting with life, showcasing the inspiring accomplishments of medical pioneers like doctors Rebecca Lee Crumpler, Leonidas Harris Berry, and Mae C. Jemison.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jowenson's class took to developing a media podcast. As part of a year-long series comprised of collective on-going discussion on dominant and counter-narratives, the podcasts this month are centered on Black History Month and focused on Black individuals and their stories. Student groups huddled in quiet corners, transforming their project research into gripping audio scholar narratives. Some of the scholar groups have even created multilingual podcasts in Spanish, Persian, and English. The air crackled with the voices of students highlighting the impact of Jackie Robinson who broke baseball's color barrier, and Homer Plessy, a rights activist who fought against Jim Crow laws in the late 19th century. These powerful narratives were recorded and woven into a unique podcast project, ready to share their lessons with the wider community.
But learning wasn't confined to words alone. Federal Way High School’s library walls display a collage of vibrant Black culture. Artwork by talented Black painters and illustrators adorned the walls, while the library counter overflowed with stories penned by Black authors, waiting to be explored by students.
Mirna, a scholar in Ms. Clark's class, was particularly struck by the story of Dr. Alexa Canady, the first Black woman neurosurgeon. “[Canaday] was proud of her accomplishments and that made me think, ‘I’m really proud of what I want to do,’ and she inspired me to look more into nursing,” Mirna shared, her voice filled with newfound determination.
For the podcasting teams, the journey went beyond textbooks. They discovered that Jackie Robinson's struggles continued well beyond the baseball field, and that Homer Plessy's fight against injustice resonates even today. Scholar Ian, spoke about the value of sharing these stories: "It's important to get the message out," he said, "and the confidence boost from public speaking is amazing."
Federal Way High School offers a diverse array of learning opportunities during Black History Month, and beyond. From captivating presentations to thought-provoking podcasts and stunning artwork, students are immersed in the richness of Black history and culture. This commitment to inclusivity extends throughout the district, as seen on the FWPS Cultural Calendar (www.fwps.org/culturalcalendar), where you can discover more ways to celebrate diversity.
TAF@Saghalie scholars experiences the award-winning American History Traveling Museum: The Unspoken Truths
TAF@Saghalie scholars had the opportunity to experience the American History Traveling Museum: The Unspoken Truths as part of Black History Month. This award-winning museum empowers learners through Afrocentric storytelling, showcasing artifacts, and celebrating Black excellence and innovation. Exploring the rich history of Africans in Africa and the many contributions of African Americans, The Unspoken Truths inspires scholars of all ages with tales of Black ingenuity.
Led by the visionary founder and curator, Delbert Richardson, each grade level eagerly delved into the rich tapestry of exhibits, meticulously crafted to unveil the often-overlooked contributions of Black creators throughout history. From ancient marvels like the Secar gliders of Africa to modern innovations like caster wheels for beds, the museum highlighted the remarkable ingenuity of African science, technology, engineering, and math that has shaped our world.
Scholars were thrilled to walk around the installation, reading about the overlooked inventors and in many instances, physically holding their original inventions. These encounters sparked profound connections with the past, instilling a deeper appreciation for the unsung heroes who paved the way for generations to come.
Reflecting on the transformative impact of the traveling museum, Ms. Essence Russ, Director of STEMbyTAF, shared, “The impact of hosting the Unspoken Truths is tremendous. … Hosting this museum gave our students exposure to some historical facts and aspects that they would sometimes not learn about unless they learn it from their parents or from elders in the community. And these facts are extremely important to shaping who they believe they are. That is the beauty of having [The Unpoken Truths] join us."
The Unspoken Truths will have multiple events scheduled for students and family members to participate throughout the day and into the evening to learn about the many facets of Black history in the United States. As a district committed to fostering inclusivity and a sense of belonging, FWPS takes pride in providing platforms for diverse cultural narratives to flourish, ensuring that every scholar has the opportunity to embrace the richness of our collective heritage.
A Tapestry of Excellence: Kilo Middle School's Tribute to Black History
Kilo Middle School celebrated Black History Month with creativity and cultural style. Scholars and staff burst into a passionate tribute project for Black History Month, filling every nook of the school campus with vibrant Black culture, artwork, accomplishments, and excellence.
At the heart of this celebration were the adorned classroom doors illuminating the rich tapestry of Black history. From the powerful presence of African ruler, Queen Nzinga Mbande who stood up to colonizers to protect her people, to the trailblazing brilliance of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson, students and staff alike poured their souls into capturing the essence of Black excellence.
Journeys through the school hallways and classrooms became engaging academic adventures full of discovery where one could stumble upon the narratives of Black influence in theater and drama, the captivating rhythms of Motown music, or the profuse variety of literature penned by Black authors.
No door was left untouched by the spirit of inclusion and education at Kilo. Everyone got involved. From counselors shedding light on Black mental health, to the Dean of Students spotlighting Jessie Owens’ Olympic triumphs and glory, to the library featuring a large paper cutout of Colin Kaepernick from floor to ceiling filled with his activism and showcasing a collection of books celebrating Black history and authors, every space became a canvas for enlightenment.
Over in the main office, Black Student Union (BSU) Co-Advisor Cheryl Williams, radiated Black History Month spirit as she sat by a door full of Black astronauts and other NASA luminaries of people of color. Her father worked for NASA for decades and that legacy fuels her mission to connect students with history saying, “we're hoping that connecting black history to our students will help them feel more of a sense of belonging. … Our past is important, because our kids need to feel a sense of pride, importance and community, in order to live in this world.”
But it wasn't just the staff who championed this cause. The BSU, with their breathtaking display of love and reverence, transformed the main office entrance into a welcoming space of cultural appreciation. Their artwork beautifully inscribed with the words, “We Love Black History”, is a testament to the school commitment in honoring all heritages, in representation of our diverse community.
Adrianna, the BSU president and eighth-grade scholar, articulated their mission clearly: to celebrate the legacy of those who paved the way for their present and inspire future generations to carry the torch of progress.
In alignment with Federal Way Public Schools’ mission, Kilo Middle School's fervent embrace of Black History Month serves as a bright illustration of the transformative influence of inclusivity and the profound impact of celebrating diversity to foster a sense of recognition and empowerment among our scholars. Stay tuned for next month as our district embarks on the commemoration of Women’s History Month.