Students at Riley Avenue and Aquebogue elementary schools in the Riverhead Central School District are celebrating Black History Month with a number of educational activities.
Three students at Riley — Ayden Hennings, Jessica Lopez Valasquez and Julia Viola — taught their peers about famous Black Americans through virtual recordings. Each spent time researching a significant individual and then recorded themselves speaking on their research. The recordings were played over the school’s PA system on successive mornings.
At Aquebogue, third graders studied the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and reflected on love and service to others. They also created an informative gallery walk featuring prominent Black Americans, including Mae Jemison, Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall and Sojourner Truth. The tour’s focus on past individuals was balanced out by some of today’s many influential Black Americans, including Amanda Gorman, Lloyd Austin and Kamala Harris.
Across all grade levels, there has been a focus on including voices and stories that build every child’s more complete understanding of Black history in America. Along with celebrating Black Americans such as Shirley Chisholm, Gordon Parks and Jane Bolin during the daily morning announcements, Aquebogue Principal Bryan Miltenberg and Assistant Principal Gary Karlson have been sharing read alouds for students on the school’s distance learning website, which has a dedicated tab with Black History Month recordings and resources.
“Ultimately, Black History Month aims to inspire year-round and lifelong learning about the history, voices and experiences of Black Americans,” said Karlson. “The students at Aquebogue have found the recent kickoff of Black History Month to be a powerful education on our past, an opportunity to appreciate the contributions of the present, and a chance to build an even more hopeful future together in our school, homes and communities.”