Increased Efforts for Black History Month At Yorktown

Danielle+Dessaso

Lauren Fatouros

Danielle Dessaso

Fiona Shepherd, Staff Reporter

This February, Yorktown staff and administration made active changes to the way our community honors the different cultures at our school. In celebrating Black History Month, Yorktown took a new approach to celebrate Black students and commemorate the key aspects of Black culture and history. 

Students have been advocating for inclusivity and acceptance this year more than ever. At the start of the school year, counselors Juanice Jenkins and Danielle Dessaso formed the Black Student Union, which has played a large role in the increased efforts for Black History Month. 

“In previous years, [Black History Month] was just mentioned in passing, but this year … we have a newly formed Black Student Union group, and students in that club decided what they wanted to do and different topics to cover over the course of Black History Month,” Jenkins said. 

The Black Student Union has already made significant changes, adding new activities and opportunities for students.  

“[The Black Student Union] is responsible for the quotes in the morning. They’ve been doing different informational segments for the Dailies and they’ve also been helping us with the display cases,” Dessaso said. 

“We’ve been trying to do a weekly trivia of different Black history facts, we’ve done a quote from notable African Americans every morning on the morning announcements this year and we plan on having a performance from some of the Howard fraternities and sororities,” Jenkins said. 

The efforts for Black History Month are meant to promote inclusivity and acceptance at our school. 

“It’s about making the African American students feel more included. We want them to feel ingrained in the fabric of Yorktown, too. And even just giving more information to the overall community to be able to teach students to recognize what’s okay and what’s not, and to be more receptive, inclusive and accepting of all aspects of every student,” Jenkins said. 

The student-led aspect of the club is what makes it so effective in producing unique ideas for honoring Black History Month. 

“For Black History Month, it is mostly students’ ideas, and there is a lot more because different people are able to bring their ideas to the table. We were able to get a lot of stuff done,” Zoe Davis, a senior at our school, said. 

The Black Student Union was created primarily to create representation and community for Black students at our school. The students themselves initiated the creation of the club, feeling that it was long overdue. 

“A lot of students have been asking for it, and it’s just about empowerment. There’s not that many Black students this year, so it’s about creating a community within that space that they can then share with the rest of the school,” Jenkins said. 

“When I got here four years ago, I was looking for a club like this. It would have been great to have it freshman year coming into a predominantly White area.… Ms. Jenkins recognized this over the years and made this club so she could make an inclusive space before us seniors left, because this is something that we have been talking about for years,” Davis said. 

Furthermore, efforts from the administration at our school have helped to create a further sense of community and acceptance. 

“Seeing the administration take an interest in our club is really fascinating. It shows a lot when administration make[s] us feel comfortable and gives us opportunities to express ourselves,” Davis said. 

The Black Student Union was successful in their efforts to revitalize Yorktown’s honoring of Black History Month. Administrators and students alike recognize a notable response from the community of the Black Student Union and beyond. 

“I’ve seen more engagement in the African American students. I think they’re just more excited to even just be able to have those opportunities. For students to be engaged in it, that’s what we are really trying to get to and for students to be more accepting,” Jenkins said.