Spirit of St. Louis – Black History Month in middle schools

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WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. - The Steger Sixth Grade Center in Webster Groves is putting the finishing touches on its Black History Month celebration. The unique experience brings a new generation a step closer to the rich legacy of the vibrant African-American community of North Webster.

Students learn by doing. It's interactive, it's digital, and it's impactful, according to administrators.

"We want to do something really innovative, something they can really appreciate down the line," said Principal Howard Fields, Ph.D.

A student video and stage performance requires extensive involvement by students, staff, and parents.

"I think it's always nice to learn in a classroom, but hands-on activity is another great way to learn," said sixth-grader Thomas Sullivan.

Protests demanding access to the city pool caught the attention of sixth-grader Omaria Aikens.

"Even little kids like kindergarteners couldn't do that. You know how sensitive they are."

Sullivan said the experience reminds us how hurtful discrimination is.

"I'm still learning how hard it is," he said. "I could never really get a grasp on how hard it would be to live like that."

Activist Benny Gordon led the fight to open the municipal pool to all Webster Groves residents. The children had a chance to interview Gordon's daughter, Gianis Lalsandhu.

Dr. Fields describes another north Webster living legend.

"The students learned about Arthur Barnett, who was a Triple-A baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals organization," Fields said.

Urban development created change, but at one-time north Webster residents were treated by the neighborhood physician, protected by a volunteer fire department, shopped at neighborhood stores, and flourished at Douglas school.

"Douglas was a fully accredited school for African-Americans in St. Louis County. From what we've learned you had individuals coming from Washington, Missouri to attend this school," Fields said.

Steger students present "Cannonball: A Black History Program" on Feb. 28 6pm in the auditorium of Steger Sixth Grade Center 701 N. Rock Hill Road.

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