In February, Minnetonka Public Schools joins other school districts, organizations, communities and individuals across the country in celebrating Black History Month. Each of our District’s schools will have unique opportunities for students to participate and celebrate. This will include a variety of learning and engagement experiences to recognize and honor the achievements and contributions of Black Americans throughout history and to celebrate leaders in our local community.
Minnetonka High School will begin the month with a schoolwide acknowledgment during morning announcements. The High School’s Men and Women of Color student groups are designing a monitor in the commons displaying facts, trivia and motivational quotes in celebration of Black History Month.
At the end of February, the Men and Women of Color groups at MHS will host two celebration events. “We will have a Black History Month program where students will highlight Black historians by reading various poems, scripts and literature,” said Careino Gurley, achievement specialist at MHS. The event will feature a short film and local Black leaders as keynote speakers. The month’s celebration will conclude with a Black Cinema Dinner featuring a movie and community potluck.
The MHS Men and Women of Color student group members will also spend an afternoon reading to and connecting with students at Excelsior Elementary. “Students will read some of their favorite books by Black authors,” said Jennifer Smasal, Excelsior Elementary School principal. “The selected stories showcase Black experiences and perspectives, acting as mirrors for some students to see themselves reflected–and windows for others to look into lives different from their own.” The visit will tie into Excelsior’s Black History Month focus on diverse books and the achievements of Black authors.
“We look forward to welcoming role models from our high school to inspire our students and promote inclusivity through literature,” said Smasal.
At Minnewashta Elementary, students will have the opportunity to work with artist Peyton Scott Russell on a mixed media mural, with support from the school’s PTO. Students from the MMW Women of Color student group will visit the school to read to students during February, which is also “I Love to Read! Month.”
Student leadership groups at MME and MMW will recognize Black History Month by creating informational posters for the building hallways and hosting morning show segments to connect with their peers about leaders who have made an impact.
Elementary schools will also feature classroom highlights about Black leaders, from artists, writers and musicians to athletes, scientists, Civil Rights advocates and educators.