Educational Excellence Since 1912
Hamden Hall Country Day School
Educating students in PreSchool through Grade 12

Black History Month Under the Pines

February marked the month-long celebration of Black History Month and the Hamden Hall community partook in activities, discussions, readings, and a special luncheon that gave students the opportunity to dive deeper into history and learn more about the people and events who shaped our nation.

During their assembly time, Lower School classes spent time learning about prominent figures in their buddy pairs. PreSchool/PreKindergarten and Grade 6 students learned about ballet dancer Misty Copeland and even had a fun morning of dancing in Taylor Gymnasium. Kindergarten and Grade 5 learned about drummer Chick Webb and created a board-full of facts that they learned and even practiced some drumming with the help of Lower School music teacher Rachael Jungkeit; Grade 1 and Grade 3 learned about artist Christian Robinson and spent time looking through his work; and Grade 2 and Grade 4 learned about poet Maya Angelou and worked on creating a popcorn cutout featuring words that “pop”  from her poem I Love the Look of Words.

The Upper School community welcomed Anti-Defamation League (ADL) facilitator and educator Derek Hall and musical guests Josh Jenkins and Elijah Hilliman for an assembly presentation organized by Black Student Union leadership and juniors Tami Afolalu and Tyrese Cedon. Mr. Hall began his presentation speaking about the history of African Diaspora, which is the involuntary movement of Africans and their descendants to other parts of the world. He broke down the history into four themes: celebration, self-actualization, resistance, and joy. Accompanying each theme was a sound bite of music played by Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Hilliman. The students were asked to think critically about the music focusing on the tempo, instrumentation, lyrics, and meaning.

“Music is a medium that connects us all and the songs played today are rooted in historical experiences and portrays the emotions of moving past the resistance and barriers ,” said Mr. Hall. “When you listen to music, please pay attention to the lyrics and instrumentation because that is the story and the message that you need to hear. Think beyond the contemporary vibe and really listen.”

The Middle School community also enjoyed an assembly with Mr. Hall in the Taylor Performing Arts Center. He began his presentation discussing the history of African Diaspora and the music that arose. Students learned about the history of rock, jazz, funk, and more with sound bits from Earth Wind, & Fire, Sister Rosetta Tharp, and Marvin Gaye.

In addition to the assembly, Black Student Union members shared via email key facts about African Americans that showcased different historical figures, authors, musicians, and more. Additionally, they provided information on local off-campus activities, events, and programs that all could attend including Black History Trivia Night at the Kindred Thoughts Bookstore in Bridgeport and film screenings at the New Haven Public Library.

Hamden Hall Country Day School

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Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.