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Great Oaks Students Celebrate Black History Month with Necklaces

Fifth-grade students at Great Oaks Academy are sporting unique jewelry throughout February – necklaces that have a photo on it. The photos are special because they are of different African American individuals that students are learning about. Students choose a new photo every day and are able to share who they are and one fact about them.

Students and staff are encouraged to stop fifth-grade students and ask them, “who are you?” This activity takes place in light of Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements by African Americans and recognize their central role throughout U.S. history. 

“This project encourages conversations about people who students may otherwise have not known about,” said Jenna Krystyniak, fifth-grade teacher at Great Oaks. “I chose a variety of people in order to balance piquing students’ interest and introducing them to new people.”

Below are examples of people who students are learning about:

Bessie Coleman.

  • Fact: “I was an early American civil aviator. I was the first woman of African American descent, and the first of Native-American descent, to hold a pilot license.”

Edward Brooke.

  • Fact: “I was an American Republican politician. In 1966, I became the first African American popularly elected to the United States Senate.”

Madam CJ Walker.

  • Fact: “I was an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist. I was considered the wealthiest African American businesswoman and wealthiest self-made woman in America at the time of my death in 1919.”

Ralph Bunche.

  • Fact: “I was an American political scientist, academic, and diplomat who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for my late 1940’s mediation in Israel. I was the first African American to be so honored.”

Shirley Chisholm.

  • Fact: “I was an American politician, educator, and author. In 1968, I became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress.”

Krystyniak designed this activity to ensure students of any academic level are able to participate and to engage students and adults from around the building, who otherwise might not.