LORAIN — Imagine one room where the likenesses of professional boxer and activist Muhammad Ali, poet laureate Amanda Gorman, and Grammy-award-winning performer Beyonce can all share the same space.
That is precisely what happened Tuesday morning as students from Hawthorne Elementary School closed out Black History Month with a Gallery Walk for families and community members showcasing projects celebrating notable Black Americans of yesterday and today. Students brought learning to life in various ways, from dioramas to clay figures, and a creative project by third-grade students using pop bottles and Styrofoam balls.
“The bottle buddies were a great project because it blends English language arts, social studies, and art into one project that our students really took ownership of in their designs,” said Third-grade teacher Matt Davis. “It was impressive to see students look at real photos and decide how they would accurately display facial features, hair, and clothes.”
Davis said the project was the highlight of the month. Still, students were exposed to Black history in all content areas, including math and science, allowing them to learn about notable figures who had achievements in many areas.
Isani Shelton studied Nicholas Johnson, who, in May 2020, became the first Black valedictorian in Princeton University’s history. She said she was surprised to learn a first happened just a few years ago.
“He only had A’s, so that means he was the top person in his class,” she said.
Dynasti Wallace turned to singer-songwriter, actress, and talk show host Jennifer Hudson to inspire her collage project.
“She’s talented and inspires me,” said the fourth-grade student. “I really want to be a singer when I grow up.”
Ward 2 Councilwoman Victoria Kempton attended the Gallery Walk along with Charlesetta Brown. Brown was among Main Street Lorain’s “Black on Broadway” honorees, which celebrated Lorain natives making history in the community and world. Brown founded the Ward 2 Neighborhood Block Watch program and is committed to growing a safe, sustainable neighborhood.
Brown said she and her mother both previously worked at Hawthorne, and her children and grandchildren once attended the school, giving her an affinity for the students and school.
She expressed to the students a message of kindness.
“We are all neighbors to each other, and you have to learn how to take care of your neighbors,” she said.
Kempton encouraged students to explore history beyond February.
“Black history is not just one month. Black history is every day,” said Kempton.