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Black History Month Throughout the District

| Categories: Curriculum & Learning
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Many VSB schools took time this past February to learn, dance and be creative while furthering their knowledge on Black history, achievements and art. Here are just a few great examples from across the District. 

Valerie Jerome at Templeton

Author and educator Valerie Jerome spoke with about 250 students from grades 8-12 at Templeton Secondary. Author of the book Races: The Trials and Triumphs of Canada's Fastest Family, she spoke with the group about growing up in one the first Black families to attend public school in West Vancouver, competing at the Olympics with her brother Harry Jerome, and writing her novel during a traumatic period of her life. Students asked what kept her going, and Valerie shared her mantra, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Another key theme of the day was how sport, for her, track, is a way to find community, laughter and joy.  

Hannah, a Grade 9 student shared after the talk, “I always had the mentality that the [worst] racism was in the U.S. and in Canada people were nice, they wouldn’t be racist here. But Canada and the U.S. were the same, and through that racism [Harry and Valerie] were able to find their dreams.”

Krystal Dos Santos at Renfrew Elementary 

At the nearby Renfrew Elementary, the Renfrew Parent-Advisory-Committee (PAC) sponsored a musical educational experience with Krystal Dos Santos. The school gym was full of energy as the young students took a break from their usual classroom learning. Decked out in a black sequined gown and sharp black suites, Krystal and her band shared and performed the history of Motown. All of Renfrew Elementary clapped, danced and sang along to songs from the Diana Ross & the Supremes, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and more. Many of the students who said they didn’t know anything about Motown were soon singing along to R.E.S.P.E.C.T and dancing to the Jackson 5. 

Black History & Futures 365

Staff and Van Tech X Block students were honoured to share with teachers across the District a round table conversation with co-founder of the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project and author, Wayde Compton. The questions were generated by Van Tech’s X Block and African Descent History course with the conversation led by the students. The goal of the round table was to model that discussions on Black history and futures should not be limited to just February, and this learning should take place 365 days a year. For VSB teachers and staff, the video is currently available on the Equity and Anti-Oppression SharePoint. 

Art at Lord Kitchener

Students at Lord Kitchener celebrated Black History Month through art and door decorating. Some of the black artists and athletes highlighted were Ashley Bryan, Alma Woodsey Thomas, Harry Jerome, Angella Issajenko, Bruny Surin, Donovan Bailey, Perdita Felicien and Grant Fuhr.

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Interview with Simone Chnarakis at Tupper

In the week following Black History Month, senior students at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary filed into the school’s auditorium for a live interview between Tupper student Ameerit Sandh and photographer and DJ, Simone Chnarakis. Simone, who is a recent Tupper graduate, has a goal of highlighting and uplifting Black and BIPOC as well as 2SLGBTQIA+ communities through her work. Simone shared that while she always aims for all people see themselves through her work, her recent project, To be Black is to be Free, was specifically curated to honour Black History Month this year. The project, which is displayed in the front foyer of Tupper, seeks to show Black joy and Black people in different environments. 

Read more about learning throughout the District on Black history, Learning about the rhythmic culture and the diversity of African Drumming, Black History Month: Learning Resources, and After the Bell – Black Excellence Day.

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