SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Throughout February, the Grant School Guidance Department will be hosting a series of themed weeks in observance of Black History Month that will include inspirational quotes, guest speakers, informative lessons and virtual games.
“What I like to remind people is that Black history is American history and although our targeted time to celebrate is in February, my hope is that programs like this spark an interest in learning about the contributions of African Americans to this country throughout the year,” said Joretta Strayhorn, who along with Amy Horn runs the guidance department at Grant.
For 2021, a different theme will be introduced each week on ‘Motivational Monday’ and, on ‘Transforming Tuesday,’ an inspiration quote about an influential African America highlighted that week will be read and posted along with a video. On ‘Wannabe Wednesdays,’ Grant will virtually welcome a themed guest speaker and, on ‘Thoughtful Thursday’ classroom ‘do now’ assignments about the information covered during the week will be posted on Google Classroom. Each themed week will wrap up on ‘Fun Friday’ with a virtual game for small prizes taking place during snack periods.
“Guidance Counselors Mrs. Strayhorn and Mrs. Horn have worked hard planning events every day of the month for Black History Month,” said Principal Patrick Sarullo.
The weekly themes and guest speakers are as follows: Entertainment (Week 1 – Feb. 1-5) – Karen Robinson-Hunte, a writer, director, and Emmy award-winning producer who grew up in Plainfield (and is the aunt of social students teacher Rebecca Gross); Medicine and Research (Week 2 – Feb. 8-12) — Dr. Shiree Southerland, a PhD-level public health educator from Maryland; Government (Week 3 – Feb. 16-19) — Honorable Angela Chadwick, a former California-based court justice; and Education (Week 4 – Feb. 22-26) – Dr. Brian L. Taylor, a resident of Ohio with a PhD in pastoral counseling.
While most of the district’s Black History Month events and programs have switched to a virtual platform this year due to COVID-19, Strayhorn feels the healthcare crisis actually helped turn Grant’s program in something that otherwise wouldn’t have been an option.
“Everybody is from everywhere and now that we are all a bit more tech-savvy, delivering a program like this became a little easier,” she said.
“We were able to bring in an Emmy-awarding producer from Los Angeles as a guest speaker along with other experts from all different parts of the country here; there is no way that could have happened in person.”
Strayhorn added that offering students the opportunity to hear, first-hand, from a variety of professionals ‘shows a well-rounded holistic version of African Americans.’
“Oftentimes, people, unfortunately stereotype and credit the contributions to just entertainment; I really wanted to show that the contributions are endless because, as I said before, this is American history,” she added. “I hope the students’ take from is this is to be more inclusive and accepting of peoples’ difference and to realize that we are far more similar than different but our differences make us who we are.”
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