In February the school hosted our Black History Month Festival themed The Importance of Education and Civic Engagement. Immigrant adult students, staff members and guests came together for the festivities. CEO Allison Kokkoros delivered welcome remarks that encouraged students to remain inspired by the heritage of Black History Month. She also commented on the diversity of languages and cultures in the school.

The annual Black History Month Festival celebrates the diverse communities in the School through art, history, and music. It honored the varied identities of students; promoting the different cultures within the school, and encouraging all students to learn about Black heritage, cultures, and history.

The event served as the perfect platform for students to showcase creative talents outside the classroom. Festival attendees enjoyed a dramatization of Rosa Parks’ famous bus ride presented by students from the GED in Spanish class. They reenacted the story of how Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in Montgomery, Alabama, which played a key role in launching the Civil Rights Movement in 1955.

The morning festival included an interview between the Ethiopian ESL student writer Yesewdeg Getachew Kassa and her teacher Hugh Beshers. In July 2017, Yesewdeg published a book on women and education in her country of origin. In this moving interview, she discussed how her book denounces the domination of men over women, a recurring issue in Ethiopian society. The book advocates equality between men and women, especially at school. After 37 years as a teacher, Yesewdeg Getachew Kassa is proud to be an advocate for abused Ethiopian women.

The festival also featured a traditional fashion show, live music, and dance performances by students. Performers included a Capoeira presentation by student Antonio Dos Santos, who combined dance, acrobatics and music to better explain this Afro-Brazilian art.  Attendees also enjoyed the parade of flags which was accompanied by fun facts on each student and captured the pride and connection that the immigrant students hold for their countries of origin. Students revealed their hidden talents, in particular one who was able to balance himself while juggling on a rolly cylinder and board! The students’ talents and rich history gave all participants a chance to connect with their roots and remember why Black History Month is so important.

You can see photos of the event on our Flickr page.