Maya Angelou poem sparks Black History Month project for middle school students

Teacher aide Mrs. Kickbush works alongside middle school math/restorative justice teacher Ms. Baldwin.  While brainstorming ideas with our students for some new artwork to display on the hallway board outside their classroom, their thoughts originally revolved around all-things spring – maybe due to some wishful thinking on these long winter days.

So Mrs. Kickbush and her students started to create some butterflies, rain drops, flowers… and a rainbow.

Then, someone suggested that the new board should have a poem or quote. So the students did some online research to find examples that included rainbows. Google provided them with plenty, but the one that stood out was from Dr. Maya Angelou, the world-renowned African American poet:

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

Suddenly, our students realized their art project would not be so much about the coming spring, but instead be a salute to Black History Month, as well as a poignant lesson we can all benefit from reading.

The results are this wonderful display you see here, created with the help of students Matt Loretto, grade 11; James Brown, grade 9; Lillie Smith and Allen Wickstrom, grade 8; and Alex Sullivan and Blake Alvarez-Huchingson, grade 7. They diligently designed, cut, glued and stapled until we had this beautiful installation.

We even included a last-minute addition by adding a groundhog – because it’s February, after all… and one of our students has a slight obsession with rodents. Great job, everyone!