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Black History Month: NTHS celebrates through poetry, posters, and a quilt (2/24/20)

By Clara Hall, Community Relations Intern (Timberline, Class of 2020)

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in the U.S. History. Each February, citizens nationwide take part in different acts of recognition, including students and staff from North Thurston Public Schools. Students from North Thurston High School in particular took action by creating posters, studying slam poetry, and initiating a multi-layered program to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Under the guidance of North Thurston English teacher and poet Amy Solomon-Minarchi, the Slam Poetry Team and Creative Writing students reflected the theme of struggle and hope in a series of poems in honor of the Black Lives Matter Movement. In her poem “Fungus,” (below) senior Joy Tobias proposes a call to action to her fellow students to have meaningful conversations about racism, even though it will be uncomfortable. Senior Mya Rodriguez writes about struggle in her poem: "A hard life is a line that never stops," thinking about the resilience it takes to change. Senior Emma Waldon writes about hope in her poem "One Day." She explores what a young woman can do to be the change she wants to see in the world. And Senior Derek Pele writes in the style of Rumi:

"Silence might keep the peace,
    but only voice leads to freedom."

“Fungus”
Joy Tobias

There’s a fungus
Among us
That targets specific bugs
It takes their minds
Numbs their bodies
And makes them crawl to their own death

This is racism
An invasive species
And it’s killing our precious bees
Yet the people around me say
“Let’s use an all-purpose-fungus-remover
Or better yet a foot fungus cream
It’s a fungus, right?
It’ll work for this one too.”

Well let me tell you that you’re wrong.
All-purpose
For a fungus
Is dangerous
Like a super-bug immune to ibuprofen
It’s super important and it bugs me
That it ain’t taken seriously

Cuz I’m a busy bee
And the last thing i need
Is this fungus dragging me down
Telling me what I can and can’t do
And where I can and can’t go
My fellow bees are being torn down
Before they realize they can fly

So tell me why
This specific problem has no specific solution
And why I’m still unable to fly
Or did the fungus already take your mind
Numb your body
And told you to crawl to your own death?

Student written poetry was assembled and presented by Solomon-Minarchi and student leader Tauilo Mauigoa during lunchtime in the commons. The focus was to highlight student experiences of struggle and hope. “[These] are two themes that are inherently universal in the lives of our students and in the reflection of the Black Lives Matter movement,” she said.

Moving forward into the celebration of the month, student leaders from NTHS’s Leadership class worked to initiate a multi-layered program to honor Dr Martin Luther King Jr. “They wanted to make this celebration a more inclusive and personal program for all students at NTHS,” said Ronna Reed, CTE teacher and Activities director at NTHS.

Instead of their typical all school assembly, the student facilitators hosted several MLK Jr. projects through their advisory periods. Students showed a 7-minute video discussing the MLK Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech, and then initiated an activity where students wrote down their own dream projects. On another day, the school Jazz Band played in the commons and students greeted each other with quotes and acts of kindness slips. There was also a mural contest, morning announcements quotes, student-made posters, a student-made quilt, slides celebrating notable African Americans, and open mic lunches. Many of the posters came from the NTHS Multicultural Club with support from the leadership students.