Skip to main content

Greensboro Academy Students Inspired by Meanings of Ashanti Symbols, Clothing Colors

Bravery, Hope, Faith, Love – Admirable qualities we all appreciate in ourselves and others.
These are some of the traits seventh and eighth-grade students of Greensboro Academy chose to represent while creating tie-dyed shirts with symbols inspired by the Ashanti tribe of Ghana, West Africa.
Led by K-8 Spanish teacher Tara Dollyhigh, students learned that Adinkra, the language of the Ashanti tribe, uses many symbols to represent different values.
“We studied the culture then we did a craft from it,” Dollyhigh said. “We stenciled symbols from the Ashanti people. They tie-dye fabric, so we tie-dyed fabric and the kids wore them to school as a casual day pass to show them off to the other students.”
Students were encouraged to choose four symbols from the tribe that meant something to them, then write an essay about why they were important.
“They really enjoyed it,” Dollyhigh said. “I think it was a good thing that a lot of them chose things like peace, love, and friendship. It was a really good outlet for them to discuss, especially after the last two years that we’ve been living in. A lot of them shared that they were thankful for friendship and for being able to be back in school and having that option.”
Dollyhigh said many of the cultures they study don’t have the option of education, so the students are focusing on the opportunities they have and the appreciation that comes with it.
“They realize they have a lot to be thankful for even throughout the pandemic, being part of our school and community,” Dollyhigh said. “It was a great time for them to reflect on those things with gratitude being our Moral Focus (for that month).”
Students learned different colors mean different things to the Ashanti tribe, so they chose colors to accompany the meanings of their symbols
“Some of them had chosen integrity and diligence and initiative, so they chose red and yellow for their colors because those represent hard work, which pairs well with the others,” Dollyhigh said.
Dollyhigh teaches about many different cultures with art lessons in mind. She has students make wreaths for the Mexican celebration of Day of the Dead, Indonesian batik fabric, and a project she calls Masks Around the World, where students display their own culture on masks they make.
About Greensboro Academy
Greensboro Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Greensboro, North Carolina, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

Visit Greensboro Academy's blog to read more stories like this.