Black History Month Gallery Showcases Steward’s Creativity, Compassion

The gallery represents our school’s commitment to honoring diversity and preparing for a brighter future.

Some say that the quality of art should be measured by its ability to inspire conversation and affect change. Steward aims to do just that with its cross-divisional Black History Month wall gallery, featuring unique contributions from JK-12 students, faculty, and staff. The focal point of the gallery is a collection of thought-provoking original drawings by junior Lizzie Parris.

The gallery, which is located on the wall outside of English teacher Cat Morphis’ classroom in the Junior Commons, is meant to serve as an interactive, “live” way for the community to learn about and engage with African American history all throughout the month of February. The process of creating the gallery was a collaborative undertaking between students, faculty, and staff that came as a result of a brainstorming group led by Upper School Academic Dean Elizabeth Simpson.

Lizzie’s work reflects the school’s campus-wide theme of storytelling in the curriculum, which is the central idea behind the entire gallery. Through unique decorations and symbols, the hands show the historical plight of African Americans, from peace and prosperity in West Africa to enslavement and the oppression of free labor in the American South. The last panel shows a hand held in a strong fist, but it is still shackled as it appears in previous drawings, representing the work that still needs to be done regarding race and oppression. The story is one of heartache, perseverance, tragedy, strength, and hope.

“It’s such an important topic that needs to be recognized,” Lizzie said. “Words can go a long way but I think pictures can go a lot further. It’s a way of communicating with people through different perspectives. I got my inspiration from what I learned in school, and I put my own spin on it to make it more interesting to interpret.”

During an assembly, Upper School students were shown the first two hands and asked to text a word to an online polling site that represents how the hands made them feel. Their words (such as “strong,” “sad,” and “determined,”) were sent to a live word cloud that developed on the screen as the students texted in. This world cloud was later printed and hung on the gallery alongside the hands.

Mrs. Simpson said: “It’s amazing to me that Lizzie has such an incredible talent that she can create art that’s not only beautiful, but is so compelling and gripping that it doesn’t give you a choice except to respond. That’s why we decided to make it the center of our gallery.”

Students in all three divisions also contributed artwork to the gallery. Here are just a few examples:

  • After reading a book on famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, Lynn Zinder’s grade 1 art students drew colorful railroad cars to represent the Underground Railroad.
  • Ron Coles’ grade 5 class did their annual quilt square project in which they design their own quilt square and include a QR code that links to a video they made about a notable African American in history.
  • Wallace Inge’s grade 7 History students used historical databases to find original bills of sale for slaves purchased in Richmond. They printed out the bills and decorated them in a way to showcase the name of each person—some wrote the person’s name over and over, while others marked out everything on the bill but the name. The idea is to honor the individuals and their legacies by remembering their names, even though they were treated in such a dehumanizing way.
  • Peter Hurley’s grade 11 AP English Language students studied a portrait of African Americans in a jazz club during the segregation period. Each student then selected a person in the portrait and wrote a poem from that person's perspective.

At the far end of the gallery hangs a poster with the following statement: “All children belong here—this is our promise to you. We are in this together, working for a world where every child is protected and honored exactly as they are.” The poster also displays the names of Steward students who are pledging their support to this mission.

“What I find so inspiring about the gallery is that it represents an all-school commitment to honoring the histories of African Americans and pledging to work together towards a brighter future,” she added. “We have the power to affect change and write a story that we’re proud of. We can help change the narrative.”


Steward Voices

Steward is an atmosphere that fosters confidence—something we have seen in all three of our kids. Whether it is playing a new sport, running for a seat on the Honor Council, or singing a solo on Talent Night, they have been encouraged to try, to experience, and to grow.
- Dan and Kathi Campbell, Parents of Abbie ’19, Emma ’17, and Ben ’14

Steward Voices

Steward is the right place for Micah and Kiri because they are able to develop strong connections with their teachers, which in turn facilitates confidence and resilience in their learning. Everyone at Steward knows your name and makes you feel so welcome.
- Paul and Janet Yoon, Parents of Kiri ’27 and Micah ’26

Steward Voices

Steward helped me develop the skills I needed to succeed in college and the courage and confidence to set competitive career goals for myself. But, these skills weren’t lessons I learned just in Steward’s classrooms; they came from the athletic fields, in the hallways, and during Honor Council meetings, too.
- Grace Henderson ’10

Steward Voices

Steward provides Andrew with a nurturing environment which fosters his individualism, develops exemplary character traits, and continuously provides him with creative learning experiences. Consequently, Andrew ‘loves’ school and anticipates each day with joy, enthusiasm, and excitement.
- Betsy Jollay, Grandmother of Andrew O’Leary ’25

Steward Voices

I love all that The Steward School has done for Trace. Steward has uncovered Trace’s talents, celebrated his individuality, and strengthened his belief in himself. The faculty and staff offer an amazing balance of challenge and comfort, encouraging the best from all students. I can’t imagine Trace being anywhere else. Thank you, Steward School.
- Ron Coles, Father of Trace Coles ’19 and Grade 5 Teacher

Steward Voices

Being a member of The Steward School international program has been an awesome experience. The community has helped me tremendously along the way.
- Bowen Chen ’15


Copyright 2014 The Steward School

The Steward School Mission

Our mission at The Steward School is to prepare our students for college and for life in a community defined by robust academics, inspiration, engagement, and care. We invite you to learn why so many families have chosen to become part of our community.


Explore Campus      Learn from the Experts

Experience "The Steward Way"

The Steward School is committed to the kind of education that recognizes individuality and fosters potential through a differentiated approach. If you value small class sizes, close connections with faculty and fellow students, and a challenging yet supportive academic environment with broad opportunities, then Steward may be the right school for you.


Learn More     Schedule a Visit    Apply Online

An Education as Unique as Your Child

We are proud to offer a comprehensive curriculum to students in junior kindergarten through twelfth grade. Discover the incredible opportunities we provide for each learner.


Lower School     Middle School     Upper School

Explore the World of the Arts

Whether setting the stage, striking a chord, creating a masterpiece, or simply exploring individual talents and interests, exposure to the arts develops important life skills necessary for students to succeed in academic areas and everyday life experiences. By providing our students with multiple creative outlets, we seek to nurture talents, build confidence, and help students discover passions.


Visual Arts     Music     Theatre

One School. One Team.

Participation, skill building, and sportsmanship are the cornerstones of The Steward School’s athletic program. At all levels, our coaching program is dedicated to giving students the training and experience necessary to develop a lifelong appreciation of physical activity, skill development, and, above all, teamwork.


Athletic Calendar     Sports Programs

A New Way of Learning

The Bryan Innovation Lab is a 21st-century, problem-solving environment. Through experiential learning in this cutting-edge facility, students are able to grapple with real world issues, challenging their critical thinking and resourcefulness.


Explore the Lab

Beyond the Classroom

The Steward School is a place of learning for the greater Richmond community through various campus programs. Whether you're interested in attending our annual gala, signing your child up for one of our summer camps, or learning more about LEAP, we welcome you to the Steward community.


Special Events     Summer Experience

It's for Steward Students!

Your gift to the Annual Fund helps ensure that each student receives the best educational experience at Steward. With the Annual Giving Family of Funds, you can direct your giving and make an impact in the area that you find most meaningful.


Learn More     Give Today