At Scott Johnson Middle School’s Black History Program on Fridayafternoon, six young men from Phi Beta Sigma fraternity did what few are able to accomplish in life—grab and hold on to the attention of a gym full of middle schoolers.
From the first moments of the energetic step routine that they performed (pictured above), the audience held fast to each movement, cheering the men on through every stomp, clap, jump and shout. It was a powerful, celebratory display that captured the spirit of the afternoon.
The program marked the culmination of SJMS’s Black History Month project, a two-week research effort that gave students a focused opportunity to learn more about the history and accomplishments of African-Americans. The best projects received recognition and awards, and all students were treated to historical songs and images along with a message of encouragement from former NFL player Je’Mone Smith.
His lesson? Football and sports can only take you so far. Make it count in the classroom. “We all know that NFL stands for National Football League,” Smith said. “Do you know what else it stands for? Not For Long.”
Smith described his journey from a single-parent family of humble means to the NFL to his post-athletic career working for some of the world’s most successful corporations. He acknowledged that sports played an important role in his life, but “it was education that took me from the neighborhood to the boardroom,” Smith said.
SJMS AVID teacher LaTisha Johnson, who helped organize the program, said the assembly was part of a larger vision to celebrate the diverse history represented in the SJMS student body. “I think that once you know your history, that’s where your pride comes from and just to embrace all of it. That’s why what we’re starting is a multicultural committee to embrace all of our cultures, not just African-American culture,” Johnson said.
“The students really get into it,” Johnson said of the history project and the assembly. “I’m very proud of them, and I think that they definitely, definitely took something away from it.”
Story by Shane Mauldin, MISD