JFK puts on black history program

Published 10:16 pm Friday, February 23, 2018

Teachers and students at John F. Kennedy Middle School put on a Black History Month program on Friday that dazzled their fellow classmates.

The program, titled “Expressions of Black History,” featured music, dancing, acting, poetry and facts about black history. The show was a collaboration between the teachers and their seventh- and eighth-grade students.

“A month ago, Ariane came to me and asked if she could put this on, and I immediately said yes,” Principal Bryan Thrift said. “It is kid-driven and teacher-driven, and they put it together in a month.”

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Teacher Ariane Williams, along with Jamilla Ford and LaToya Albritton, collaborated to put the show together in such a small amount of time.

“We planned this inside and outside of school,” Williams said. “We practiced during our blocks with the kids.”

Students took turns coming to the podium in between numbers to share the history of Black History Month and give facts about prominent black figures. Students also read poetry accompanied by Albritton on violin.

This was the first year the school had a program dedicated to Black History Month, but it will surely not be its last.

“We wanted to express black history in a creative way and hear voices and sounds from the past,” Williams said.

During the programs, the students used a series of props to tell small stories while the performances were happening. One student sat behind a prop of a bus, depicting Rosa Parks, and two other students sat on a bench supposed to be a bus stop.

The school’s chorus, band and orchestra all had a part in the production, and they played a selection of songs that would bring the children back to African roots.

“We wanted to have African music to take the students there, but we also had spiritual music as well,” Albritton said.

Not only did the school play a large part, but the women who put on the show wanted to involve the community as well. Vonda Warren had the opportunity to perform, and she performed a spiritual song. She received multiple standing ovations from the students for her rendition.

Williams believes this won’t be the last production the students put on, and they will try to do this again for next year’s Black History Month.

“They are phenomenal, and everyone worked together so well,” said Thrift. “All I had to do was say yes and they did the rest. It’s great to see teachers that care.”