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Reflecting on Black History Month


Since its inception, the Washington Jesuit Academy has always celebrated and appreciated its diverse student body, faculty, and staff. Black History Month gave us the opportunity to further learn about the origins of this observance and the central role of black leaders in our nation’s history.


For the past few weeks, our teachers have come up with creative ways to weave information about prominent figures in black history into their lesson plans. Mrs. Barcellona and the 4th grade students have been studying black leaders who paved the way to a more equal and tolerant America. As many of our 4th graders are aspiring athletes themselves, they chose to focus on black athletes who made strides to integrate and diversify the world of sports. Most recently, students have been reading about and researching the Negro National League.

Mrs. Barcellona also organized a trip for students to attend the musical, “Black Diamond,” at the Smithsonian’s Discovery Theatre. The musical chronicled the struggles and triumphs of pioneering black baseball players. It introduced the students to players that were making waves long before Jackie Robinson, such as Moses “Fleet” Walker, who reigns as the first black professional player, and Andrew “Rube” Foster who was known as the “Father of Black Baseball.”

In language arts, our 5th graders are working on "information books” with Ms. O’Mahony (Ms. O). During February, Ms. O decided to focus on significant leaders and events that helped shape black history. This unit involved students choosing and researching a topic, compiling the information into several chapters, and moving through the various writing stages. Next, they drafted, edited and revised the information before publishing and presenting their book. The students will share their books with their sponsors at "Back to School Night."

Through these innovative lessons, our students learned more about many achievements of black leaders in our nation’s history and how they can follow their example to be thoughtful, passionate, men for others.