A “Black History Quilt,” created by Summit Academy Transition High School – Columbus students, graces the wall of the school’s main hallway.

At Summit Academy Transition High School – Columbus, Black History Month has clearly captured the spotlight. Vibrant,  thought-provoking lessons and projects are engaging students deeply across academic subjects.

“This is a time when, as students of history, we should reflect upon and appreciate the achievements and progress made by individuals of African descent,” says Intervention Specialist Robert Wood.

Mr. Wood is leading his students to explore the lives of Black individuals who have impacted the world. They are researching significant events of their childhoods as well as their backgrounds, major achievements, impact on society and significance in history, then sharing their findings with each other.

Students also are preparing to answer such questions as:

In your opinion, what is your person’s most important contribution to society?

If our school was named after your person, what values and ideas would the community associate with what occurs inside our school?

Of all the incredible people to recognize and remember during Black History Month, why should we remember yours?

Meanwhile, in therapeutic martial arts class, Sensei Nathanial Tisdale and his students are delving into the history of groundbreaking Black martial artists. Actors Jim Kelly and Michael Jay White, who was the first black superhero in an American movie, are among those being studied. The students are also reviewing the Brazilian Martial Art of Capoeira which, according to Tisdale, was created by plantation slaves in Brazil.

With the precision of a microscope, students in Science teacher Mallory Boykin’s class are researching Black scientists and preparing related papers and slide presentations. Ms. Boykin says she hopes her students gain a better understanding of the world around them through their Black history studies.

The scientists students have selected to study are those such as Katherine Johnson, George Washington Carver, Josephine Silone Yates, Edward Alexander Bouchet, Victor J. Glover and cartographer Grafton Tyler Brown.

Senior Mark Perdue chose to study astronaut Mae C. Jemison, the first African American female astronaut who flew into space. She flew aboard the Endeavour in 1992. In his presentation to his classmates, Mark described how Ms. Jemison excelled in her studies at Stanford University and pursued her goal to become a woman in space in times of racism and unfair judgment towards women.  Astronaut Jemison received numerous awards for her achievements and is recognized for inspiring countless Black women to achieve their goals. Mark’s presentation serves as an example of the richness of the students’ research and findings.

Likewise, students in English Language Arts teacher Nathan Zoebl ‘s class will immerse themselves in posters, slide shows and essays on selected persons from history of contemporary times. The students will study their legacies, influences and accomplishments.

Finally, in Social Studies teacher Lillian Linfert’s class, students are peeling back the layers of Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre, among others, to gain a richer understanding of these significant points in Black history. Ms. Linfert’s students are also creating a word cloud for Black History Month. Their mission calls for 20 words, at least four people and no less than two quotes. The finished product will grace the main school wall in the same fashion as a Black History quilt, which features President Barack Obama; Maya Angelou, and Rosa Parks among other great leaders who changed the course of Black history and made significant lasting impacts on Summit Academy Transition High School – Columbus students and society overall.

Interim Director Lisa Hall, MSW, LSW, Behavior Specialist and Performance Coach, describes the quilt as beautiful and meaningful, just like her school community’s rich celebration and study of Black history.

“I am honored to work with a group of educators who value the contributions of Black scientists, writers, inventors, mathematicians, doctors, pilots and others. Showcasing the accomplishments of people of color is not done just once per year by our educators here at COLTRA,” says Interim Director Hall. “Black History Month is a time when our educators challenge our students to see themselves in those men and women of color who have contributed richly to our world.  I applaud all of our students and educators here at COLTRA for the contributions that they are making to our Summit community.”