February marks the beginning of Black History Month and here at Sacred Heart Greenwich, we’re honoring the legacy and importance of this historic celebration both in and out of the classroom. Our February First Friday focused specifically on the 2022 theme of Black Health & Wellness, with a presentation led by Sacred Heart senior Leah Allen ’22.
Leah discussed important events in Black history as well as the challenges and opportunities that accompany being a young, Black woman in today’s world. She broke down the celebration of Black History Month into three main categories: joy, remembrance, and progress. Leah explained that while it’s important to be aware of the hardships Black Americans have faced and continue to face in the past and present, it’s just as necessary to celebrate moments of Black joy and progress, a sentiment that isn’t always as likely to be discussed in the typical history classroom.
Students, staff, and faculty then broke into groups for an activity that tested their knowledge on Black artists, change-makers, and historical events. Leah’s presentation was informative, articulate, and well-developed–with audience members coming away with new perspectives and learning on the topic–and she also stressed the pressure she felt in attempting to sum up the collective triumphs and tribulations of Black Americans in a short presentation.
“In my final year as a Sacred Heart student, it was such an honor to share and celebrate a very small piece of my history with the larger school community,” Leah said. “We really tried to encourage attendants to take a moment to reflect and try to reconcile aspects of Black history with Black healing and joy and consider paths towards progress.”
“Leah's presentation was important because it highlighted both the trauma associated with Black history as well as the triumph and joy,” Kerry Bader, the Upper School Community Service Coordinator, explained. “Leah challenged all of us to think deeply about what we know, and perhaps more importantly what we don't know, and to come together to have important and positive discussions about this topic. Because [Sacred Heart Greenwich] is grounded in the Goals and Criteria, our community can have difficult conversations that reflect empathy, respect and sensitivity.”