High School Celebrates Black History and Culture

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Amityville Memorial High School students expressed themselves through art, song, dance and poetry to celebrate Black History Month during an afternoon assembly on Feb. 15. The entire student body gathered for the program which included numerous captivating performances.

The auditorium stage was flanked by two large black, green, red and yellow banners with inspirational words such as beauty, love, power, strength and wisdom. The show opened with the high school chorus performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the black national anthem. 

 Host Justin Bethea asked his classmates to show their enthusiasm by shouting “ashay” after each performance. The percussion ensemble played an African beat on the drums and the dance team delighted the crowd with a Caribbean dance. 

Nate Odige showcased his Haitian pride painting, which paid tribute to both the nation’s history and the spirit of its people. Elliot Herrero sang “Big Love” by the Black Eyed Peas, Kayla Barrett danced to “Still I Rise” and Noah Odige and Tiana Spence performed 2Pac’s “Changes.”

The performances were intertwined with history lessons. A slideshow presentation on African-American success highlighted several individuals, such as Claudette Colvin, Bayard Rustin and Augusta Savage, who made great contributions to society but aren’t as prominently known. Students also learned about the origins of black newspapers. 

Student Rachelle Louis-Jean spoke about Major Nancy Leftenant-Colón, an Amityville Memorial High School graduate, who later returned as the school nurse after a distinguished career as a military nurse. The high school library was recently named in her honor.