The York Catholic District School Board is proud to celebrate Black History Month throughout the month of February. Catholic schools across York Region will mark Black History Month with special events including visits from guest speakers, morning reflections, African drumming workshops, school displays, student-led radio shows, and a variety of classroom learning activities.
Below is a sample of some of the Black History Month events taking place across the York Catholic District School Board.
On Tuesday, February 2, 2016, St. John XXIII Catholic Elementary School will host an interactive drumming workshop for its students. Through chants and storytelling by Musician and Motivational Speaker, Babarinde Williams, students will be introduced to traditional African drumming and deepen their understanding and appreciation of Black history.
Our Lady of Hope Catholic Elementary School in Richmond Hill will celebrate Black History by welcoming Author and Poet, Nadine Williams. Williams' presentation will include songs, poetry and story-telling sessions for various age groups. Wlliams, a native of St. Mary Parish, Jamaica, credits her success to humble beginnings reading under the kerosene lamplight to her family as a child, coupled with being reared by witty grandparents who often spoke in parables. She has been recognized by several community service and government organizations for her work.
To mark Black History Month, Grade 3-8 students at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Elementary School in Vaughan will watch a performance by Leslie McCurdy called, The Spirit of Harriet Tubman. McCurdy will portray Harriet Tubman's life in the 1850's, and recreate stories about the Underground Railroad to teach students about Tubman's faith and conviction, which drove her to rescue herself from slavery and lead others to freedom into Canada.
Down to Earth Conservation Education will visit St. David Catholic Elementary School in Maple on Thursday, February 4, 2016 to present Safari in Kenya to the Kindergarten to Grade 4 students, and Black History to the Grade 5 to 8 students. During the Safari in Kenya presentation, Author Loretta Penny will guide students in exploring the land, people, and animals of Kenya, comparing the similarities and differences of life in Canada with those in Africa. During the Black History presentation students will undertake the trans-Atlantic "Middle Passage" crossing to the Caribbean. Students will learn about life on a sugar cane plantation, the freedom route into the hills of Jamaica, and the Underground Railroad in North America. Students will reflect upon slavery, emancipation, and the historical struggles and enduring spirits of the African people.
To help raise awareness for Black History Month, students at St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School in Richmond Hill will participate in a special assembly presented by Loretta Penny from Down To Earth Conservation Education. The school's primary students will journey through a Safari in Kenya, while the junior and intermediate students will participate in a presentation that focuses on principles of social justice and human rights, and that encourages students to build a more compassionate world free of racism.
On Thursday, February 11, 2016, students at St. Mary Catholic Elementary School in Nobleton will participate in African drumming workshops throughout the day, led by special guest presenter, Babarinde (Baba) Williams. The students will explore leadership qualities and principles through anecdotes, stories, quotes and proverbs. This leadership and character development workshop also has an anti-bullying message which is designed to awaken the senses of students and staff towards kindness and humanity. Ubuntu is a traditional African philosophy that offers the students an understanding of themselves in relation to the world. All students will have the opportunity to take part in a fun and interactive workshop as they explore African drumming.
On February 12, 2016, students at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Elementary School in Markham will learn about the heroism of Harriet Tubman in one of two age-appropriate performances. The performance for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students called, Harriet is my Hero, features Guest Presenter, Leslie McCurdy, who will explore what makes Harriet a heroine by engaging students in an interactive story using dolls. The performance for Grade 4 to 8 students called, The Spirit of Harriet Tubman will portray her life in the 1850s, recreating stories about the Underground Railroad and Tubman's escape and rescue of enslaved family and friends.
St. Edward Catholic Elementary School in Markham will host, Sugar & Gold: A Musical Story of the Underground Railroad in Canada by award-winning CBC acclaimed performers, Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley, on February 12, 2016. The 50-minute interactive performance will include songs, slides and storytelling highlighting the history of the Underground Railroad in Canada and the story of the first Black settlers in Canada. There will also be a ten minutes Question and Answer period for students.
To mark Black History Month, St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Woodbridge will host a theatrical presentation for its students called, Railroad to Freedom on Thursday, February 25, 2016. Railroad to Freedom is a Canadian-based production, featuring a multicultural cast of professional actors that will introduce students to key figures in the Black fight for freedom. The hard-hitting contemporary story, set in an African-Canadian historical content, has an underlying anti-bullying message that teaches students the detrimental consequences of hate and prejudice. The production was written and directed by EMG Education. To ensure all of the school's students can witness this production, two identical shows will take place.
St. Stephen Catholic Elementary School in Woodbridge will host, Sugar & Gold: A Musical Story of the Underground Railroad in Canada on February 26, 2016. Students in Grades 3 to 8 will enjoy an interactive performance that includes songs, slides, and storytelling that illustrate the history of the Underground Railroad in Canada. This presentation will be delivered by award-winning blues musicians and performers Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley. St. Stephen will also have an information display in the school's library throughout the month of February where students can learn more about Black history and social change in Canada.