BELOIT — Aldrich Intermediate School, 1859 Northgate Drive, Beloit Turner School District and the Beloit Transit System are all offering some unique activities in light of February being Black History Month.
Aldrich has moved its annual event online. It’s set for Feb. 19 from 9-10 a.m. and will feature 20 role models of color from the community who will speak to students in their online classrooms following the main event. Festivities will include a keynote address by Beloit Police Capt. Andre Sayles, student musical performances and a visit from the Beloit Memorial High School Knightingales.
The main event prior to the individual classroom visits will be later posted to the school district website for everyone to watch.
“The overarching purpose is to acknowledge Black History Month and the work of African Americans throughout the history of our country, specifically work that paves the way for our students to embrace a limitless future full of equity, opportunity and possibility,” said Aldrich Principal Joe Vrydaghs.
Vrydaghs will kick off the event, encouraging students to build community ties. After his introduction he will turn it over to Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest winner fifth grader Jaily Segura who will speak.
Other essay honorees include: fourth grader Gabriela Franco and eighth grader Anahi Arroyo. Participation recognition will go to fourth graders Andrew Marko and Alondra Reyes Ortega.
Anahi Arroyo who will sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and Kamani Ford who will sing “I Feel a Change is Coming.”
Speech pathologist and Minority Excellence Organization (MEO) co-adviser Ann Meinholz and teacher and MEO co-adviser Alicia Wash said MEO has been meeting this year virtually. It has been focused on being a support to students and their families during the pandemic and distance learning. This year MEO had a food drive, with students taking donations to Caritas. It also had movie nights and a virtual fall party in addition to offering the Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest.
The Beloit School District is honoring local African-American leaders in the community who are role models and are making a positive difference each Monday and Wednesday on social media. Those featured so far include: Former Beloit NAACP President Dorothy Harrell, Beloit Police Officer Lorenzo Henderson, Beloit Police Capt. Andre Sayles, School Board Member Amiee Leavy, Beloit City Council Member Kevin Leavy, City Council President Regina Duncan and Firefighter/EMT DeCarlos Nora.
The City of Beloit and Beloit Transit are honoring Black History Month by reserving seats on each Beloit Transit System bus for Rosa Parks during the month of February. Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, in December 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus. Parks’ arrest resulted in a year-long boycott by Black riders of the transit system until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was illegal. Known as the mother of the Civil Rights movement, Parks’ actions helped spur a movement to end racial segregation and Jim Crow Laws.
“Reserving seats for Rosa Parks is a strong symbol for our community,” said James Thompson, Director of Transit. “All people are welcome and treated with dignity.”
All schools in the Beloit Turner School District are offering activities, according to information from the district.
At Powers Elementary School, all classrooms have planned books and activities that they are reading and writing about. At Townview Elementary School the third grade classes are learning about Black History Month by incorporating read alouds, famous quotes and brief video clips of famous African-Americans The fourth graders are conducting a mini-research project and creating a “quilt” with their findings. In addition they spotlight a significant figure each day during their morning meetings. The fifth grade team is currently working on a project focusing on significant figures related to Black History Month.
In addition at the elementary schools, the district’s new English language arts curriculum includes multiple books and passages that tie into the history , culture, successes, and important African-American people
Turner Middle School students are studying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s influence, the Civil Rights Movement, civil rights activists, famous African-American contributions to American society and more. They are also doing a Langston Hughes activity and investigating and annotating a Kamala Harris article among many other reading and writing activities.