HOUSTON – Feb. 15, 2019 – Recognizing February as Black History Month, board trustees took time at their regular meeting on Tuesday to recognize the top two winners of the district’s annual Black History Month Oratory Contest, as well as the winners of the district’s Visual Arts competition.
The winners of the oratory contest were Andrew Mata, a fourth grader from McNabb Elementary School, and Jaslene Carrasco, a fifth grader from Link Elementary. Trustees also heard from Sedric Davis, a second-grader from Reynolds Elementary who was a special guest speaker for the oratory contest.
All students were on hand to present their speeches on the topic: “If you could speak to all of America what would your message be about Civil Rights?”
In Sedric’s speech, he thanked civil rights leaders, including Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks, as well as a long list of other notable trailblazers and pioneers who paved the way for future generations.
“Black people have come a long way but we still have a long way to go,” he said.
For the contest, elementary students composed their own original three to five minute speeches judged by delivery, stage presence and decorum, content interpretation and memorization at all levels of the competition.
The students participated in the oratory competition, held on Feb. 7 at McNabb Elementary. Both Andrew and Jaslene earned the top spots.
At the board meeting on Tuesday, both students gave an encore performance of their speeches for the trustees and community members in a packed board room.
“We have the same flesh, the same blood, though our flesh may be a different color,” Andrew said. “Everyone is important and should be loved, right? We are a team and a family, and the world’s greatest human being, humanity.”
He added: “By loving each other and working together, nothing can keep us from making this world a better place to live in.”
Jaslene reflected on more current events in her speech, noting a spate of recent incidents that have focused attention on police conduct, racism and injustice, including the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“While walking home, he was shot. Do you know why he was killed? He was wearing a hoodie and looked suspicious,” she said. She called on everyone to take steps to address inequality and discrimination.
“We are truly in a state of crisis,” she said. “We need to vote for those in government who are truly trying to make a change in our community.”
Also recognized at Tuesday’s board meeting were the top three artists in the district’s high school visual competition. Jocelynne Castillo earned third place from Wunsche High School.
Da’Vion Tatum from Westfield High School placed second place in the competition, and Iana Jones from Wunsche High School earned the top spot. She drew a portrait of Booker Washington, who she said inspired her because even though he was born into slavery, he was a strong supporter and proponent of education.
The spotlight presentation on Black History Month drew praise from the trustees.
“We are always amazed at the outstanding job our teachers are doing with our students,” said Board president Rhonda Newhouse.