Sunset Avenue Elementary School commemorated Black History Month Thursday with a special program in the school’s auditorium.
“It’s an annual program that we do,” shared Heather Honeycutt, fourth grade Language Arts teacher and co-organizer of the program. “It helps pinpoint for the students key moments in history that show how far African Americans have come. It helps them understand why they are all able to come to the same school together and that’s important because it hasn’t always been that way. Their generation, and even my generation, doesn’t really know about segregation.”
With music teacher Stan Benton at the piano, the children began the program with music, singing “We Shall Overcome” and “Wade in the Water.”
The students on stage, as well as those in the audience, lifted their voices and sang together because Benton had taught the whole school these two significant songs. During the program, Benton mentioned that “Wade in the Water” was a favorite among the students. “We’ll try not to blow the roof off the place,” joked Benton of the students’ enthusiasm.
Following the sing-a-long, several Sunset students created a timeline showing many of the civil rights events that took place during the 1950s and 1960s. Among the events they covered were Rosa Park’s historic bus ride, James Meredith’s enrollment as the first black student at the University of Mississippi, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspirational ‘I Have A Dream” speech.
More music followed with Honesty Williams taking the stage to sing an impressive rendition of Etta James’ famous hit ‘At Last,’ which earned a loud applause from her fellow students and the school staff in the audience.
“She blows you away when she sings this song,” vowed Honeycutt.
Martin Luther King Jr. made an appearance in the program as Zregory Powell gave an enthusiastic reading of a portion of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, and Jaida Harris represented Maya Angelou, reading Angelou’s poem ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.’
Several famous African American athletes also entered the auditorium as students represented the likes of baseball player Jackie Robinson, boxer Muhammad Ali, track and field star ‘Flo Jo,’ basketball player Michael Jordan, and tennis players Venus and Serena Williams.
“They did a fantastic job. It went really well,” reflected Sunset Avenue principal Greg Dirks after the program. “I think it’s great that the program integrated both literature and music into this educational opportunity here at Sunset.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.