The First Virtual Black History Month Assembly


Amber Ann Houghtaling, Writer

On February 24th, 2021, Curtis High School held its very first virtual Black History Month Assembly. The assembly, usually enjoyed from the seats of the auditorium, was now held through computer screens. In a series of workshops via Zoom, students were able to discuss influential African-Americans and learn about different opportunities in their communities.

A message from the Black History Month Event Planning Committee on the month’s theme!

The day included workshops such as Being Black in IT, the SI NAACP Youth Council, College Life & Remote Learning, Photography and Protesting, The Importance of Mentorships, Finding Our Voice at Curtis High School featuring an author interview, among many others. In total, there were about 39 different events throughout the day for students and faculty to attend. According to Omosefe Noruwa, a sophomore, there were a few setbacks, but they were promptly fixed. “At first, a lot of teachers and students were confused about the zoom links and didn’t even know there was an assembly, but once everyone was informed, it went smoothly.”

Osagie Noruwa, a senior, who was featured for the Student Spotlight with a writing piece explaining his name.

At the beginning and end of the assembly, all students and staff were gathered in one Microsoft Teams meeting to enjoy performances from fellow students. These performances included “Strange Fruit” and “My truth,” a poem, performed by Kayla Whiten, “When you believe” by Dreamworks and performed by Tsanaya & Tsai-Ann Hill, “Read All About It” by Jada & Jordan Robinson, an art slideshow by Ms. Zuaro’s students, Christopher Rivera performing Medley of Songs and original student monologues by Ms. Fugate’s class. We even had a virtual visit from a New York State Assemblyman, Charles D. Fall! A portion of the assembly was also dedicated to honoring African-American students who showed outstanding academic achievements. The event ended with a tribute to Master Sgt. Wiggins and Massa Kamara, a student who the Curtis family had unfortunately lost earlier in the school year.

The virtual Black History Month event was a first for everyone and there were varying thoughts around it. Isabella Storer said “I would rather have the event in person because I feel like everything is more engaging in person. However, my favorite parts were the student monologues.” Another student, Pamela Rodriquez, felt similarly but still enjoyed it. “I really enjoyed hearing the poems that my friends and other classmates wrote for the event. I would definitely like one in person but the online one was just as good.” One performer, Toni-Rose Gbargaye, also described the online event as “just as good”, but expressed that “some students aren’t able to learn about everything in the same day.” Mrs. McConville, a geometry teacher, seemed to feel the opposite. “I found the breakout rooms to be most special. I was able to learn something new in all of the sessions I attended while actively participating in educated conversations.” 

When asked about why the Black History Month event is so special to Curtis, Omosefe Noruwa said “The Black History Month event is so cherished here at Curtis because a lot of our students are African American, so it only makes sense to celebrate our culture. Not only is it a celebration, but it’s also some form of teaching for students who may not know a lot about the different Black ethnic groups or our accomplishments. With the help of our wonderful teachers and my fellow Student Organization members and I, the Black History Month Assembly was definitely one to remember.” Ms. Oliveri, an Earth Science teacher, agreed. “Black History Month is so special at Curtis High School because students, teachers, and all staff gather to celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans.” Toni-Rose Gbargaye also claimed that “Black History Month at Curtis High School is so special because as a community we can come together and celebrate an overlooked community. I learned not only from this event, but from some of my wonderful teachers who took the time to create lessons centered around the month.” As you can see, the Black History Month assembly is a key tradition in Curtis HS that’s enjoyable, no matter the circumstances, for all. 

The Black History Month Logo Contest Winner