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NVUSD Students Celebrate Black History Month


In honor of Black History Month, we are sharing some of the projects NVUSD students are doing to learn, share and reflect on the achievements and contributions of African Americans.

Student Presenting
Learning about Rosa Parks

Phillips Elementary

In Jennifer Veveiros’ 5th grade class at Phillips, students selected and researched a black leader and created a multimedia project, including a video that was posted to the class website. The students selected a range of current and historic leaders, including Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Dr. Mae Jemison, the first Black woman astronaut to go into space.

“After learning the habits of successful leaders, the students discussed the importance of courage and how their selected leader exhibited this characteristic,” said Ms. Veveiros.

The students at Phillips, a leadership, engineering, art, and design magnet school, also learned about influential Black artists and musicians. After exploring the artwork of Alma Thomas, the students created their own artwork inspired by the famous artist. Thomas was the first African American woman to have a solo exhibition at New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, and she also exhibited her paintings at the White House on three occasions.

artwork of Alma Thomas

Pueblo Vista Elementary

Did you know — the inventor of both the gas mask and the traffic light, and the inventor of portable refrigeration share something in common? Both African-American individuals are subjects of discussions in Talia Godinez’s sixth-grade class at Pueblo Vista Elementary School. During Black History Month,, students spend 2-3 mornings per week learning about prominent African-American individuals, some well-known and some more obscure, but all who have made positive contributions to our history and culture.  

According to Godinez, students also connect their learnings with the current curriculum. For example, a poetry unit in language arts is supported by learning about notable African-American poets Maya Angelou and Amanda Gorman. And she also tries to select individuals that might not have name recognition but are relatable to their lives somehow. A perfect example — is Nia Di Costa, the first African-American woman to direct a Marvel film. At the end of February, students will pick from ten individuals and produce a writing and art project called “Historial Hoodies,” where they design the perfect hoodie for the selected person based on what they have learned.

Donaldson Way Elementary School

At Donaldson Way Elementary School (DWES), 4th-grade students connected art with history. They started by reading a biography about an influential black artist, watching a video about the artist, and then received an art lesson in the style of the artist, followed by the opportunity to create their own artistic expression in the style of the artist. 

Jacob Lawrence
Alma Woolsey Art

The Artists and the Art

First, students read about Jacob Lawrence, who is considered to be one of the most famous African American artists of the 20th century. After learning about his life and his works as a painter, students completed a guided drawing lesson. Pictured below are the finished products from Mrs. McCullough’s class where students used mixed media, including crayons, oil crayons, markers, and sharpies to finish their drawing. 

Students then read and watched a video about Alma Woolsey before learning about her style of artistic expression inspired by color theory and the use of watercolors. To practice what they learned, students created their own Color Field paintings. Mrs. Whitehead’s class is featured below. It is especially fitting that the DWES 4th-grade class learned about Alma Woolsey since she was a teacher for 38 years before seriously taking up art.

Team Work Makes the Dream Work!

According to 4th-grade teacher Mrs. McCullough, “Mrs. Whitehead, Mrs. Hesser, and I teamed on planning and implementing these lessons for every fourth-grader at DWES. Each of us put our own twist on the lesson. For example, my students used mosaic to create their Alma Woolsey piece. It was a team effort!”

Redwood Middle School

At Redwood Middle School, Amelia Brown, Ammy Hallinan, and Julie Eastman are reading the Watsons Go to Birmingham with every 6th-grade student. The novel is an award-winning work of historical fiction by Christopher Paul Curtis based on his childhood and the events of the Civil Rights Movement centered around Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. 

Blending English and Social Studies

Before reading the novel, students were given an introduction to the Civil Rights Movement. According to sixth-grade teacher Amy Hallinan, 

In order to help students understand the concept of civil rights, we viewed some images about civil rights. Before telling the students about the subject of the images they predicted what these pictures could be showing. We watched a documentary on the Children's March and the unrest in Birmingham in 1963 including events featured in the book such as the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Both of these events helped solidify national support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Pictured below are students from Mrs. Hallinan’s and Julie Eastman’s blended English and Social Studies classes reading the novel and learning about the Civil Rights Movement.

students from Mrs. Hallinan’s and Julie Eastman’s blended English and Social Studies classes


  • 01 - Elementary Schools
  • 02 - Middle Schools
  • Donaldson Way Elementary School
  • Phillips Magnet Elementary School
  • Pueblo Vista Magnet School
  • Redwood Middle School