The Lower School has been very busy throughout January reading, learning, and talking about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, teachings, and legacy. I Have A Dream bulletin boards featured each grade's responses in writing and pictures to his famous speech.
In February, the Chinese School of Andover (CSA) invited Pike families, faculty, and staff to join their celebration of the 2016 Chinese Lunar New Year on Sunday, February 7. The celebration showcased a variety of musical and dance performances by CSA students and friends, some of whom are Pike students. Eighth grader, Estelle Zhu, is very involved with CSA, mentoring younger students and helping them with their dance. She also performed for the attendees. A potluck party with a variety of Chinese dishes followed the performances.
In Pre-K, Sylvia Su's mother, Kris Wang, shared a PowerPoint presentation about Chinese New Year and the zodiac calendar, explaining that this is the year of the monkey. She brought red lanterns and Chinese good luck characters to decorate the classroom and gave children red envelopes and delicious mandarin oranges.
Cindy Duan's mother visited Kindergarten to share information and to celebrate Chinese New Year with the students. She shared some words and phrases in Chinese and gave the children red envelopes containing two dollar bills. She explained that it is traditional for children to spend one of the dollars to have good luck for the New Year.
The Middle School has been abuzz with excitement during January and February. In January, students began delving into the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. through the picture book, Martin's Big Words, by Doreen Rappaport. This picture book was highlighted at one of our assemblies and the entire middle school wrote their own dreams for our school and world communities based on MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. The A.L.B.A.N.I.E. lunch group took leadership in posting the dreams on our walls and created a bulletin board showcasing Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous quotes. These dream speech bubbles continue to be proudly displayed on the walls of Middle School.
To celebrate Chinese New Year, Mr. and Mrs. An came to our Middle School assembly on February 4 and presented a wonderful slide show highlighting how the new year is celebrated in the Chinese community. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. An!
In February, The A.L.B.A.N.I.E. lunch group learned about Fannie Lou Hamer, an inspirational civil rights activist, by listening to sections of Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole B. Weatherford. Students suggested projects based on the concept of equality for all and ran with their ideas. One group of fifth graders created a PowerPoint presentation outlining Fannie Lou Hamer's major life events. Another group created a frozen tableau showing emotions stemming from Fannie's life experiences. Fourth graders created a poster illustrating unity through the joining of hands around the world. Third graders wrote their own quotes for a graffiti board expressing their wishes for everyone. The students will present their ideas and projects at an assembly early in April. What great student leaders we have at Pike!
In addition, fourth graders in music have been doing a mini-unit on the blues where the students were introduced to blues poetry, representative blues musicians, and some of the historical context for the blues. They are now learning to write their own twelve-bar blues songs.
The Upper School brought awareness about Black History Month to the Pike Community through assemblies, student discussions, and visual reminders of the contributions and sacrifices of members of the black community throughout the history of the U.S.
Students from the A.L.B.A.N.I.E. Alliance presented at two upper school assemblies about the origins of Black History Month. They highlighted the story of Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Black History Month, and his vision of educating African American students in the 1920s about their deeply rooted African heritage. The A.L.B.A.N.I.E. students went on to explain that Black History Month is one of pride, honor, and growth of knowledge. The audience was encouraged to pay attention to the bulletin board in the Upper School, which was covered with present and past members of the black community who have made remarkable contributions to our society. These figures ranged from historical figures like Bridget "Biddy" Mason to modern-day figures like Ta-Nehisi Coates. The people who were highlighted on the bulletin board each had a short biography attached to their image, giving the viewer a quick and rich idea of their accomplishments.
During another assembly, Colleen Welch told the remarkable story of Robert Smalls, an enslaved black man who won his freedom in the mid-1800s by strategically stealing an armored Confederate transport ship during the Civil War, and sailing out of Charleston Harbor to freedom. Ms. Welch told how Smalls later became a ship's pilot, sea captain, and politician during a time when opportunities for African Americans were extremely limited.
The A.L.B.A.N.I.E. Alliance also held several discussions, rooted in the theme of African American history, about leadership and gaining independence in times of oppression.