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Steward Celebrates Black History Month

The Steward School
Special events foster community connections.
The Steward School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council and Center for Engagement, celebrated Black History Month with a variety of events that honored the contributions of Black people from all periods of U.S. history. These were in addition to lessons about Black History taught in conjunction with Steward’s curriculum.

Tiffany Goodman (diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator) and Rashad Lowery (coordinator of campus life and community stewardship) collaborated with colleagues and with community partners to arrange these gatherings. 
Brushstrokes of History

On February 4, Steward families joined guest-artist Sone-Seere Burrell for portrait painting in the Cramer Center for the Arts. Participants could choose between creating portraits of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Rosa Parks, or Dorothy Height. 

“This was a night to simply reflect and be,” said Ms. Goodman.“We took time to discuss each Civil Rights hero and their legacy, including the fact that Dorothy Height was born in Richmond. And we learned about painting palettes and color schemes before the music began to play and the paint began to flow. It was a beautiful night of community, culture, and wellness.”

Paying Homage 

Volunteers gathered on February 19 at Richmond’s Woodland Cemetery to learn about the cemetery (the resting place for Arthur Ashe, Civil Rights pastor John Jasper, and renaissance sculptor Leslie Garland Bolling) and remove debris and brush from the cemetery grounds. 

Mr. Lowery said, “This was a great opportunity to learn about the history and legacies of influential African Americans interred at Woodland. It was exciting to see a group of various ages and backgrounds come together for a common purpose to help clean up grounds littered with items that you wouldn't hope to see near a cemetery. These opportunities are teachable moments that will hopefully inspire others to continue this work.”

Honoring Black Culture 

Students in Upper School Technology Facilitator Erin Springfield’s Freshman Seminar (Applied Technology) class studied key Black figures from a variety of areas such as music, arts & entertainment, STEM, sports, and literature. Several students created their own cooking shows to honor Black culture through food, which they presented and filmed in the Byan Innovation Lab.
Davonte Hines ’25 and Parish Freeman ’25 prepared fried chicken for their film, “Origins of Traditional African American Foods,” Lina Dawson ’25 made New Orleans beignets to celebrate Disney’s first African American princess (“The Princess and The Frog”), and Meg Harrison ’25, Braylan Rice ’25, and Karis Witdoeckt ’25 cooked apple pudding using the original recipe by Malinda Russell, the first African American woman to publish a cookbook. The Steward community will see these films (and more!) at the Upper School Student Film Fest on May 6.

History in 3-D

The Grade 6 academic team collaborated on a pop-up museum that was held in the Art Gallery on February 28. Sixth-graders researched Black activists, pioneers, artists, engineers, athletes, scientists, mathematicians, and entertainers and created a 3-D project on that person. A QR code on each project was linked to students’ oral presentations on that person.

Middle School English Teacher Shannon Elsea, who helped with the project, said, “We watched clips from the series “Black History in Two Minutes,” and the pop-up museum evolved into our version of that effort. The sixth-grade team knew that this hands-on assignment would help us achieve many interdisciplinary outcomes, including experience with research, time-management, problem-solving, and oral and written communication.”

Reflecting on students’ efforts, Ms. Elsea said it is “amazing to see their diversity of thought and creativity. We also knew that this project would lead to crucial conversations about the Black experience, empathy, opportunity, and student empowerment as agents for change in their immediate and larger experiences.” 

Take a look at the Steward Snaps from Black History Month.

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