Teacher Talk: First Graders Celebrate Black History Month

March 21, 2017

Mater Christi School First Graders Celebrate Black History Month

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

The first graders at Mater Christi actually spent the month of February learning about famous African Americans and then during March they shared what they have learned with their parents and other guests.

Their teacher, Mrs. Leslie Sem, helped the youngsters discover black Americans who have lived in such a way that they made a positive difference in both their personal lives and in the lives of other Americans. Leslie observed her students carefully as they became acquainted with a variety of black Americans and their accomplishments in order to see if individual children   showed an unusual interest in any one person in particular. In this way, she could expose the children to more information about the individual. This was all it took for most of the children to make an informed decision to do more research and turn it into a presentation.

One student chose Malvin Whitfield an Olympic track runner and Tuskegee Airman because the first grader wants to become a successful track runner similar to Malvin Whitfield.

Abigail Ulager settled on Regina Carter, a violinist, because Regina’s grandfather was a coal miner, and Abigail’s great grandfather was a coal miner. Another thing they have in common is that Abigail plays the violin and wants to become an excellent musician like Regina.

The choices of other first graders included Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Michael Jordan, Louis Armstrong, and Barack Obama.

On March 9, the first graders presented their projects to a packed classroom. After the presentations, Mrs. Sem commented that she was particularly pleased with how a number of her students identified with their American hero and how that made the assignment both personal and purposeful.

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Sister Joanne LaFreniere, RSM
Director of Public Relations and Spiritual Life