Black History Lesson

OCS hosts multiple assemblies as students celebrate Black history


Tierre Waters from Christina Cultural Arts Center leads Odyssey Middle School students in a drum performance at The Grail in Elsmere on Feb. 8.

Brielle Mongare, Staff Writer

On Feb. 8 and 9, Odyssey students attended assemblies to celebrate Black history. From the Lower School to the High School, each assembly featured different ways to enjoy performances by students and guests, or learn about significant contributions that African Americans have made to society.

The events were planned by Audrey Boney, the cultural specialist at Odyssey. Ms. Boney reached out to Christina Cultural Arts Center and invited Tierre Waters, Christian Wills, and Edwina Thertulien to help in the assemblies. Ms. Boney also invited all students to perform at the events.

“I gave everybody an opportunity if they wanted to express themselves through dance, a song, maybe a skit, or poetry,” said Ms. Boney. “However students wanted to express themselves to celebrate Black history.”

At the Middle School event, Waters was the drum instructor who called down different students to play the drums that were spread out across the gymnasium floor at The Grail in Elsmere. With approximately 20 students banging on drums or buckets, Waters taught students a few beats as they played to about 600 middle school students.

Next, Christian Wills led a spoken-word performance and called for some students to recite a poem with him. He chose two seventh graders, Jamil Kabia and Cydni Ambrose, to help him. He also performed a rap song to go along with the poem.

“At the start I was nervous,” said Kabia, “but in the end I am glad I did it.”

DJ Efficial also participated in the event. He played songs by artists like Beyonce, Lil Uzi Vert, and Coi Leray. He also played remixes of the theme songs to “Baby Shark” and “Little Einsteins.”

Brittney Ridgway, the Middle School’s administrative assistant, and seventh grade students Sydney Gibbs, Jayla Felder, and Loghan Benson created a group together called The Bees and performed at the assembly to make it more fun and enjoyable for the students.The Bees paid a tribute to Beyonce and danced to songs from “Homecoming: The Live Album.”

At the High School assembly, students watched a step performance, dance battle competition, spoken-word presentation, trivia challenge, and two rap performances.

At the Lower School event, each grade level enjoyed a reading followed by a craft activity. Kindergarten students read “Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Light” and then filled in traffic lights with the appropriate colors. First Graders read about Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel into space, and colored in a picture of Mae to express themselves. Second graders read “Have You Thanked an Inventor today?” and chose from three African American inventors to color and decorate.

At the Intermediate School event, held in building 20, students had an opportunity to learn African dance and drums. Thertulien was the dance instructor and Waters was the drum instructor.

Ms. Boney was excited about positive responses she received after the assemblies, including some students’ plans to participate in the event next year.

“I was thrilled to hear this,” Ms. Boney said, “and I look forward to all of the creative ways students will want to express their adoration and appreciation for Black history, which is American history.”