The start of new traditions: Tupelo High expands Black History Month Celebrations

The start of new traditions: Tupelo High expands Black History Month Celebrations
Tupelo Celebrates Black History
Tupelo Celebrates Black History

A new year means new ideas. Tupelo High School has decided to do multiple events instead of just one specific event for Black History Month. 

Last year’s Black History Month Program was in the dome which was viewed by every class on campus, but this year the High School is planning on doing something a little different.

“We’re going to have a door decoration contest. As you can see, now, throughout the school, we’re trying to encourage students and teachers to decorate their doors for Black History Month,” 11th grade administrator Mrs. Sparkman said. 

There will also be a Black History Month program in the evening at six o’clock on February 22, in the PAC. 

“We are hoping that the community and also students will come out along with parents to enjoy some singing and to just be excited about celebrating black history, ” Sparkman said.

Black History has inspired several of people to chase and follow their dreams. 

“Black history is American history. And we want to celebrate the contributions and achievements of African Americans,” Sparkman said.

The committee has planned to invite different colleges and universities to perform step dancing for students during their lunch periods. Stepping is a historical form of communication and storytelling. 

“We’ve also invited some colleges and universities with their fraternities and sororities, hopefully, they’ll get a chance to come and do some steps,” Sparkman said. 

This is something for everyone to come together and create something beautiful. 

“All the departments at the school, they have some type of idea that they have come up with, to share with the students because this is all about you all,” Sparkman said. 

Click below to read more about the door decorating and special projects done by other groups. 

Ms. Elliotts door won third place.
Doors to History: Students Celebrate Black Heritage Through Artistic Flair

Instead of celebrating Black History Month with a short one-time program, the THS committee decided to celebrate all month long and incorporate multiple projects. 

“This year, we’re trying to do something different. For years, I would say annually, we have always had a black history program. And it includes a speaker and all of those particular things, but this year, we’re trying to involve more students. So what we’re going to do, we’re not going to have an actual annual program during school, we are going to have several other things. We’re going to have a door decoration contest. As you can see, now, throughout the school, we’re trying to encourage students and teachers to decorate their doors for Black History Month.”  Sparkman said

Teachers and students were invited to participate and decorate their doors using the theme “African American Firsts.” 

“My door design is to motivate students to finish high school and to go on to a college or university, preferably an HBCU and historically black college or university,” CTE student services coordinator Sherry Mcgaughy said

Teachers want their doors to motivate students during black history month

“So I had each of my Engineering I students, research a black engineer who had invented something or done something and create these little things with the picture the facts, and then I just want it to be colorful and fun,” CTE engineering teacher Ms. Pierce said..

Most of the themes on the doors are from what the classes are in the room. Some teachers allowed the students to create their door design and others did it themselves. Spanish teacher Ms. Clark celebrated various African Americans who were the first to do important things with a headshot of an African American woman whose necklace is made up of photos. 

“I think there’s like there’s over 70 pictures at the bottom. She has a whole bunch of curls. A whole bunch. Took two classes and at least 20 kids to make all the curls.” Spanish teacher Ms. Clark said. 

The preparation with the items used on the door it took some time but it’s worth the outcome. 

“One of the challenges that I faced was really just deciding on what I wanted to put on my door. I Googled a lot of things and found a lot of different designs, but I chose to just create my own.” Mcgaughy said. 

The doors in the competition showcased a variety of themes, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), celebrated artists of influence, pioneering black engineers, and more.

“So the students did the research and found the photos. Then I cut them out and glued them and cut out the letters and put the paper up. I would say it probably took about two hours to do it all.”  Pierce said.

For the competition, teachers demonstrated their inventiveness by decorating their doors with an array of everyday items they discovered around their classrooms.

“I used mostly just printed items. Have some cardboard up there, and some strips of paper that was used for the hair, but mostly it was just things I found around the house,”  Mcgaughy said. 

Ms. Elliott’s door won third place. (Tameka White)
THS Celebrates Black History Month
THS Celebrates Black History Month

February, also known as Black History Month, is a time when many Black Americans all over the world come together to celebrate and learn about their culture in many unique ways. At Tupelo, art becomes a bridge to the past, as students explore and celebrate the profound contributions of Black Americans through their creative expressions.

Tupelo High School art teacher, Mrs. Addie Ferguson explains her approach. 

“I’m having the students listen to blues music, and they are going to translate what they hear into how it makes them feel, through their art. I decided on this because it not only involves art and history, but it also incorporates music into it too which I think is cool,” Ferguson said.

However this is not the only project being done, many students are using calligrams, a form of art in which you use words of value relating to someone or something to create an image to learn about different influential Black artists from many different decades.

“Calligrams require research about your person and thing. So when you’re getting ready to make a calligram, you’ll also be learning about your person or thing and their contributions to history,” said former art student Amya Vaughn.

In Ms. Parker’s art classes, students have expressed their gratitude for using art as a way to learn about their culture, claiming it helps them understand it better.

“I will say that it showed me that there’s many more people that have helped in this movement and you know, showing that we are people too. So it’s been helping me see each and every person that has been a part of that. And that… is special,” Freshman Art student Chris Anderson said.

As February comes to a close and as these young artists’ works take their place on the walls of H building, they stand as a reminder that while Black History Month may end, the exploration and celebration of Black culture and contributions continue throughout the year. With initiatives like these, Tupelo High School ensures that the lessons of history are not only learned but lived.

African-American Firsts: celebrating the first African-American people to accomplish great things, or make important impressions on the public.
African-American Firsts: celebrating the first African-American people to accomplish great things, or make important impressions on the public.

African-American firsts have made an impact on history with the many things they accomplished. Their impact has set the standards for many throughout time and for those who follow them.

  • Frederick Douglas – An American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. Frederick Douglas became the most important leader of the movement for African American civil rights in the 19th century.
  • Ethel Payne – Ethel L. Payne was an American journalist, editor, and foreign correspondent. Known as the “First Lady of the black press,” she fulfilled many roles over her career, including columnist, commentator, lecturer, and freelance writer.
  • David Blackwell – American statistician and mathematician who made significant contributions to game theory, information theory, and statistics. David Blackwell is one of the eponymous of the RAO – Blackwell theorem.
  • Vernon Jarrett – Jarrett was an African-American journalist who worked in newspaper, television, and radio and was an influential commentator on race relations, politics, and African-American history.
  • Belva Davis – An American television and radio journalist. She is the first African-American woman to have become a television reporter on the U.S. West Coast. She has won eight Emmy Awards and has been recognized by the American Women in Radio and Television and the National Association of Black Journalists.

These are the African-American first; they are the first of many and have accomplished many things.

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