Bailey Elementary School
For a few hours at Bailey Elementary School, history came to life in the school library, as students were able to talk to scientist Benjamin Banneker, abolitionist Harriet Tubman, First Lady Michelle Obama and sports legends Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson.
These were just a few of the historical figures who were portrayed at Bailey’s Living Wax Museum on February 26 as part of the school’s annual celebration of Black History Month. Organized by fifth-grade teacher, Barbara Tunstall for the last three years, the students selected and researched the life of an African-American who impacted history and portrayed that individual in costumes or by telling visitors about their life. Among the many other historical figures portrayed were Justice Thurgood Marshall, Coretta Scott King, General Colin Powell and poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Maya Angelou.
“After studying it (the history), they can become it and experience what these people actually went through. They are learning about figures in history that they didn’t know about. Many of them broke barriers as the first African-Americans in their fields,” Tunstall said.
West Broadway Middle School
Inventors of some of the most common and useful everyday items like the lawn mower, ironing board, pencil sharpener, comb and elevator all had something in common.
They were African-Americans whose inventions were celebrated in a special Black History Month Program held at West Broadway Middle School on Thursday, February 26. The event was organized by fifth and sixth-grade resource assistant Angel Brown, who had held the ceremony for 17 years when West Broadway was an elementary school and was thrilled to bring it back when the school reopened. She organized a similar ceremony at Anthony Carnevale Elementary School, where she has also worked for the last three years.
“My mother always taught us about our heritage,” said Brown, “so I thought of this program when I first came here so I could teach others.”
The program was held in two assemblies and was attended by Supt. Dr. Susan Lusi and Denise Carpenter, director of dropout prevention programs, who served as guest speaker.
In addition to short readings about famous African-Americans, the sixth-grade chorus sang “Lean on Me,” “Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” and “Imagine” while the sixth-grade ESL class performed a play reenacting Rosa Park’s bus protest.
Brown, who will graduate from Providence College in May and plans to become a teacher, involved the entire school in Black History Month by having the students fill out and decorate a small poster that said, “I Have a Dream to . . .” Some of their responses included to be a judge, to help others with special needs, to make their mom happy and to get into college.
Each student also received bookmarks, pencils and flyers from Stop & Shop celebrating Black History Month.