ST. ED'S HONORS BLACK HISTORY MONTH WITH SPEAKER SERIES AND ACTIVITIES THAT CELEBRATE DIVERSITY
To honor Black History Month, St. Ed's will be offering different opportunities to celebrate and discuss black history throughout the month of February. Posters decorating the halls have displayed quotes by Nelson Mandela, Booker T. Washington, Dr. Mae Jemison, Thurgood Marshall and more in addition to major events within black history for students to see a visual of how black history impacts their lives and the importance of learning, living and celebrating the legacy at St. Ed's. "The inspiration behind our celebration of Black History Month is a part of a bigger effort by our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to recognize and celebrate the diversity that is within our school," says VP of Equity and Inclusion Mr. James Knight. "Students within our Diversity Club have been wanting to put together a series of activities and celebrations that commemorate and recognize the contributions of African-Americans. Students at St. Ed's felt that this was a perfect opportunity to honor and shed light on the positive contributions African-Americans have made around the world and even in our own backyard in the greater Cleveland area."
On Thursday, St. Ed's welcomed the Honorable Judge Michael Ryan from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division to kick off St. Ed's Black History Month Speaker Series. He shared with students how he overcame obstacles to pursue a career in law, to use the law as a tool of tranquility and to stand up for social justice. "Judge Ryan shared with our students his journey and how faith played an important role in allowing him to overcome the challenges of his childhood," says Mr. Knight. "It was because of the things he overcame as a young teenager that inspired him to become a lawyer and then a judge so that he could make a difference, particularly in the lives of our youth. As a firm believer that if you put in the work, it will reward you in the long run, Judge Ryan encouraged our students to take school seriously and serves as an inspiration to them to work hard and excel. Judge Ryan is, in a sense, is part of modern day black history when he became the youngest African-American male to be elected judge in the Cleveland Municipal Court's history. Presently, he is the only African-American judge in the state of Ohio serving in the juvenile division. The takeaways for our students from their time with Judge Ryan is that anything is possible and if your circumstances aren't always the most favorable, faith in God and hard work will pay off and get you through."
Other guest speakers who will participate in this month's Black History Month Speaker Series will include President and CEO of ServiceMaster Clean and Restore Durand Hopkins, former director of Security for the Cleveland Cavaliers Marvin Cross, and African-American health care expert and co-director of the Partnership for Urban Health Dr. Gregory Hall. In addition to the speaker series, St. Ed's Diversity Club and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will be hosting movie showings of Hate U Give, Woodlawn, The Great Debaters, and the documentary 13th in addition to open discussions about diversity for all students every Thursday this month. Other diverse activities offered throughout the month will include an African drum circle, a poetry and spoken word reading, a workshop to learn Capoiera, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and a cultural dinner celebration for students and their families to connect and share in community.
"This year, we're making a more concerted effort to do more within the community that will encourage communal involvement by teachers, staff and students to recognize diversity," says Mr. Knight. "It is my belief that by celebrating the diversity around us and within our school, it fosters a sense of community and gives our students the opportunity to learn about and benefit from other cultures that are different from their own. This month of celebration will be an exciting and rewarding experience for our community. It will give our community an opportunity to practice cultural humility, to learn from each other and share in each other's traditions and expressions of culture."