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Steel Valley board treated to 'Soul Train' for Black History Month

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 3:56 a.m.

Barrett Elementary students presented an abbreviated version of their Black History Month program to Steel Valley school directors on Tuesday night.

“In recognition of Black History Month, staff members at Barrett Elementary helped put together oral presentations as well as song selection and even dance for our assembly,” Barrett Elementary principal Sharon Fisher said.

Some of the students shared their dream from first-graders creating a Wall of Dreams.

“Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream,” first-grader Jayden Parker said. “He was not the only African-American who had a dream.

All accomplishments start with a dream followed by hard work and dedication. The first-graders came up with a list of many celebrities who have achieved their dreams and they now like their own dreams for the future. My dream is to be a police officer.”

Second-graders wrote about inspirations from their own family, third-graders researched successful African-American athletes, fourth-graders took virtual tours of African-American history sites and fifth-graders studied King's “I Have a Dream” speech.

For a performance in front of the school board, Barrett Elementary fifth-grader Rionte Carter dressed as former “Soul Train” host Don Cornelius while teacher Jonette Bost's second-grade class and teacher Sue Wilder's dance team performed to songs for a tribute to “Soul Train.”

“This was a production of the BKW Production Team,” Bost said.

“This is when teachers work together. They collaborate. They step outside their comfort zone and find what captures their students' interest.”

Steel Valley Superintendent Ed Wehrer said he's guessing the BKW stands for the names of Bost, music teacher Sharon Kampe and Wilder.

Fisher said for students to participate on the dance team, they are held to high behavior and academic expectations.

The school presented the program for the community on Feb. 13.

Wehrer noted other Black History Month activities within the district.

“All schools have been studying the many contributions of African-Americans to our history and to our culture,” he said.

Wehrer said the Harmony Club of Homestead presented an assembly on Tuesday morning for the high school about the history and seven guiding principles of Kwanzaa. He said the eighth grade is planning a field trip to see the play on the first African-American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

“It is a one-person play,” Wehrer said. “That one person happens to be a Steel Valley grad Montae Russell. We're awfully proud and excited to have him back in Pittsburgh and putting on this play. Many of our students will get to see him.”

Park Elementary students have been creating art projects, including the fifth grade doing story pillows inspired by artist Faith Ringgold and the fourth grade making masks from around the world. The projects will be displayed in the cultural museum at the elementary school.

Franklin Primary Center staff read African-American literature to students and taught them folk songs.

Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or