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Rockwood Schools Celebrate Black History Month

Feb. 28, 2023

During the month of February, schools all over the Rockwood School District celebrated Black History Month in a variety of ways, with lessons, presentations, activities, performances and more.

Check out some of the ways in which our schools enjoyed a month of fun and learning.

Marquette High Welcomes in Local Artist, Step Team, Musicians

Marquette students take part in a step presentation with the group Gentlemen of Vision.

The students leading the planning for this year's Black History Month activities at Marquette wanted to put a premium on performance and artistic expression.

They did so because that's what other students said they wanted.

"They wanted to watch something, see something exciting," said senior Claireece Cross. "It reached more people this year."

During AcLab periods, Marquette students enjoyed presentations from artist Eric Wilson of the ERG Gallery, the step team Gentlemen of Vision and a performance by the band Dirty Muggs, whose lead singer, Nikko Smith, made it into the top 10 of American Idol in 2005.

The Gentlemen of Vision performance included a demonstration portion in which Marquette students, staff members and others in attendance were encouraged to come on stage and learn a step routine.

"The goal is to showcase Black excellence. It’s about being able to see greatness," said junior Frederick McCullough II. "It’s great to show that Black history isn’t just a matter of the past and that Black excellence can be showcased in today’s world.”

McCullough and other students also took to the intercom each day to share Black History Month fun facts at the beginning of AcLab.

"I want people to have fun during Black History Month," Cross said. "There is so much going on in our present and future, with local artists and people around the world doing great things."

(A special thank you to Marquette students James Beers and Bella Lee for providing these pictures!)

A local artists leads a presentation for Marquette students Rockwood students dance as a band performs in a school theater

Ellisville Elementary Students Learn About Notable Black Musicians During Black History Month

Rockwood students play instruments as a teacher leads them in music class

At Ellisville Elementary, students are learning about famous Black musicians thanks to vocal music teacher Katie Brown.

While learning about and listening to examples of jazz music, students learned that spontaneously creating music, or improvising, is a significant part of jazz. They learned about nine of the most famous jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and more.

“Ella Fitzgerald, in particular, was interesting because she improvised with her voice using a technique called scat singing, which is when you improvise melody vocally using syllables for text,” Brown explained.

Using the examples they heard as inspiration, first-graders got to try their own hand at scat singing, which they performed in front of their class.

First-grade students at Ellisville Elementary pose for a picture.“Even though this was their first performance as jazz artists, the inspiration the first-graders got from watching jazz greats from history helped them to find their voices,” Brown said.

Second-grade students studied a unit on blues music this month. They read a book about Melba Liston, a self-taught musician who was one of the most famous jazz and blues musicians of her time.

“Since second-graders knew about jazz music from last year, we focused on blues music this month, learning about the musical chord structure of blues music and where blues music came from,” Brown said.

After listening to Liston improvise on her trombone, students were inspired to improvise their own rhythms with the song "Good Morning Blues" by Lead Belly. They sang and improvised in eight-beat rhythmic phrases during the verses, and then in the middle section, they improvised 16-beat rhythms.

“Learning about Melba Liston and other musicians from her time has helped second-graders at Ellisville to remember not to let challenges get in the way of expressing ourselves through music,” Brown said.

Dr. Cain Presents on Dr. King During Wildwood Middle Morning Announcements

Throughout the month of February, Wildwood Middle has featured presentations on influential African American historical figures during its morning announcements to celebrate Black History Month.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, Rockwood Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain took part in the festivities, presenting on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Westridge Elementary Students Hear Presentation from Descendant of Dred Scott

Rockwood staff members smile with a descendant of Dred Scott at a presentation at their school

Westridge Elementary students in grades 3-5 recently had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the Dred Scott Decision, which played a role in sparking the Civil War. 

Lynne Jackson, the great-great granddaughter of Dred and Harriet Scott, brought historical documents and artifacts to display and discuss with students and faculty. As Jackson shared her family's struggle to gain their freedom, students were engaged by applying their classroom constitutional knowledge to ask higher-level thinking questions.

When asked the question, “Why do you feel that this information about your great-great grandfather, Dred Scott, is important to students today,” she responded, “It is important that students have an understanding that people from the past dealt with difficult situations, too.

"The courage that it took for an enslaved person to bring a lawsuit against their owner was rare and dangerous. Believing in what is right and standing for the convictions you have will not always be easy, but nothing is truly gained without sacrifice. Their sacrifice paved the way for the end of slavery, and that was worth it!”

Eureka High Black Student Union Representatives Share Reading Time with Elementary Students

Student representatives from the Eureka High Black Student Union (BSU) club traveled to Fairway Elementary to read with elementary students on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The BSU students shared their experiences as students in Rockwood and talked about the importance of representation.

Rockwood Summit High Students Enjoy Black History Month Trivia Competition

A student smiles as she collaborates with another student during a Black History Month trivia competition.

On Monday, Feb. 13, Rockwood Summit students celebrated Black History Month by participating in a trivia contest in the library during AcLab.

Students competed for prizes and showed off their knowledge of influential Black figures from the 1970s to today in areas such as leadership/government, sports, STEM, literature and music.

Ridge Meadows Elementary Celebrates Black History Month with Walk of Fame

At Ridge Meadows, students are learning about prominent local and national African American figures who have made contributions in a variety of fields through a Black History Month Walk of Fame.

Students can make their way down the Walk and scan QR codes to watch videos about influential Black figures, either in their own words or through presentations about their lives.