Staff and students celebrate Black History Month

Seniors+Daniellie+McLaurin+and+Amber+Coach+work+on+door+decorations+after+school.

Courtesy of Daniellie McLaurin

Seniors Daniellie McLaurin and Amber Coach work on door decorations after school.

As the first week of February took its course, students gathered in groups after school to create the behind-the-scenes magic of the Black History Month door decorations. Careful hands traced intricate designs and cut out paper to craft a door in honor of African American achievements throughout history. Each door had different inspirations, and each told its own story.

The Black Student Union (BSU) has held trivia in the cafeteria and door decorating after school, in years past. However, COVID-19 made it harder for the BSU to organize events last year. With the new opportunity to expand activities back in person, the BSU hosted a variety of events to raise awareness for Black History Month.

“I feel like, as a school, we haven’t done as much for Black History Month as we could have [in the past,] so the effort that everyone is putting in [this year] is impactful,” BSU member and sophomore Tristen Banks said. “As a school, we have to come together and teach the students, like how we have decorations now on the doors, just informing students.”

Science teacher Paul Hage’s door. (Addie Gleason)

BSU president Daniellie McLaurin took part in the after-school door decorating. Along with various other members of the BSU, she traced out shapes and designs to put on doors throughout the school.

“[Black History Month] is our month for Black historians. A lot of stuff that Black historians and famous Black people have done happened in February. It means us Black people coming together and learning about other people, [and] it’s just our month,” McLaurin said. “Us Black people are minorities in this country today, so I feel like Black History Month should be very important.”

Starting with the idea of empowered Black women throughout history, feminist club leaders juniors Luisa D’Aquino Lazarini and Nikita Bhaskar brainstormed designs for social studies teachers Amy Thornhill and Lara Boles’ doors. Beginning with Thornhill’s door, D’Aquino Lazarini chose a word to symbolize what each woman did in their lifetime. These words included “protest,” “lead” and “learn.”

Social studies teachers Amy Thornhill and Lara Boles’ doors. (Addie Gleason)

“A lot of people don’t know [the doors] are about Black History Month. [Helping decorate doors] was something I could give, in a way, as not a person of color. I want to make it known and help out in any way I can,” D’Aquino Lazarini said. “[Black History Month] brings a sense of celebration, [Black people] have so much to celebrate and they fought so hard for everything. Their culture is amazing.”

Moving on to Boles’ door, Bhaskar based her design on Ruby Bridges. Deciding that the design’s hearts and education equality aspects fit the month perfectly, the feminist club got to work.

Grade level principal Brionne Smith’s door. (Addie Gleason)

Black history is such an important part of American history, America would not be where it is today without the African Americans in the United States and everything they’ve done,” Bhaskar said. “So Black History Month is so important because at least for one month out of the year, we should all focus on educating ourselves and being informed and honoring the Black community.”

Along with other BSU members, freshman Laci De Joie worked hard to cut out and curl individual pieces of paper to craft a hairstyle on grade-level principal Brionne Smith’s door. One of De Joie’s favorite parts of her culture is the hairstyles, including braids, locs and beads. 

The purpose and origins of Black History Month. (Addie Gleason)

“I’m good at art, so I can show my art through the door. I decided that I was going to [decorate doors] because I felt it was important to me to be a part of [the BSU]. Black History Month is a way that I can show my culture. It’s also a way that I can educate my other friends about my culture; I gave them some facts about the whole month and different days,” De Joie said.

Additionally, the BSU held a spirit week from Feb. 22 – Feb. 25. Staff and students were asked to wear green Tuesday, red Wednesday, 1990s-inspired outfits Thursday and college apparel Friday. An annual African American Read-In was postponed due to weather conditions.

“Black and green are the all-around colors of Black History month; that’s like the foundation. The red is the cultural part as well. Then the 1990s were when everything came to be when Black people were inventing more, [and] fashion came out. [So many] things happened in the 1990s which made us choose the 1990s themes. The college apparel is just something fun we wanted to do,” Banks said.