The first-ever Black History Month essay contest was a great success last Friday, and organizers said they were encouraged by the writing and plan to build on it in the coming years.
The essay contest was open to all seniors in Everett, whether they went to Everett Public Schools or not, and required students to write an essay and read it aloud. It was to be simply about a black person who has inspired them to better things.
Last Friday morning, the five winners were announced in an assembly at Everett High School. Following the announcements, the winners read their essays aloud.
The contest was a partnership between the Everett Public Schools, Councilor Gerly Adrien and Everett High Academies coordinator Omar Easy.
“Dr. Easy and I both grew up in Everett and both of us left for college and found success outside of Everett,” she said. “We also both decided to come back and give back to our hometown. We share a similar story and we both decided it would be great for students and residents to learn more about Black History.”
Easy said he has sensed that senior students have enjoyed the exercise, and also having the ability to present their winning essays to a large audience.
“It’s great for students to recognize Black History Month,” he said. “In year past, it hasn’t been as central as it has been this year. I think Gerly’s effort has made a big difference this year. The next step is to figure out how it can continue every Black History Month. The Everett High curriculum doesn’t have that piece. I hope that we can have a Black History class taught within our Social Studies curriculum. I think our younger kids are excited to hear the history of blacks in America.”
One thing they discovered this year is there is a generation gap between the seniors who participated and those who did the judging. Many people they thought would be the subject of essays weren’t necessarily those written about.
In fact, this year’s winner, Fabrice Jacques, wrote that he was most inspired by his classmate, Rothsaida Sylvaince.
“The people we thought probably would make it into a Black History essay were different from what the students chose,” said Adrien. “There is a generational difference. One student wrote about another student. That was amazing. I think this is only going to get bigger.”
This year, there were just under 20 essays turned in, but there seems to be enthusiasm to expand the reach next year.
“I think it’s a good starting point and gives us a baseline,” said former Interim Supt. Janice Gauthier. “We get to know the kids thoughts and know what they’re thinking on such an important subject. You have to know the kids and what they’re thinking, or you’ll lose them. It’s not just science or writing, but it could really serve to bring the entire curriculum into their thoughts.”
Easy said he was happy with the participation this year, but he is certain the junior class will be very excited to join in next year.
“Our juniors are very excited to be a part of it next year,” he said. “We’re looking forward to giving them a chance to participate next year.”