It was an evening filled with bright colors, music, and dance that stirred emotions as students from across Spring ISD came together at Dekaney High School for the Spring ISD District Black History Expo, in honor of Black History Month.
“It is a special day today,” Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa told attendees on Tuesday night during the event’s closing ceremony. “Our diversity is what makes us strong, and so today we want to celebrate the strength of our community – the strength of our culture – that we are celebrating today, and every day, in Spring ISD.”
For this year’s Black History Month group and individual projects, Spring ISD students focused on the impact of Africa on the world, together with the impact made by people of African descent throughout history. Participating students of all backgrounds took on projects that connected to the assigned theme through art, science, history and social studies, poetry and song, and even cooking.
“We took the perspective of Africa’s impact on the world, because not everybody knows all of the different parts of the world that are touched by people of African descent,” said Samba Goddard, the district’s K-5 social studies curriculum specialist. “We’re all connected, and when you look at some of the students’ projects, you can see that our kids have made the connections.”
In addition to celebrating cultural influences, students also highlighted historical and present-day struggles for equality and civil rights, themes that were on display in several student projects, in the intricately choreographed step performances from students at Bailey and Roberson middle schools, and in the rousing chorus of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” led by the Roberson Middle School Choir.
McNabb Elementary School second-grader Ana Lucia Rodriguez, who won 1st Place in the Individual PK-2 category, focused her project on how the food of Africa influenced food in the U.S. and around the world. During the expo, Rodriguez explained how she discovered that some of the traditional favorite foods she learned about from her own Cuban heritage – like quimbombó and mofongo – were heavily influenced by food cultures brought to Cuba by enslaved African people.
“The Africans brought their traditions, like in their food,” Rodriguez said, “and that’s the way it came from Africa to Cuba.”
McNabb first-grader Annamaria Busti, who won 2nd Place in the Individual PK-2 category, was also at the expo with her parents to share about her research and her art project on the Cuban-American singer Celia Cruz.
“She blended Afro-Latino culture,” Busti explained as she pointed to the colorful display and sculpture she had created to accompany her project. “During the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, she was known as the Queen of Salsa.”
Proud mom Claudia Diaz Busti explained that the Black History Month project had offered a valuable way for her daughter to gain a deeper understanding of how cultures influence one another – something she already sees at home and around her in her school and community.
“She’s half-Cuban, half-Italian, and was born here in Texas,” Diaz Busti said, “so the culture comes from everywhere!”
Lewis Elementary School fourth-grader A’aliyah Shelvin, meanwhile, joined with classmates for a group project on the history of the NAACP.
“It was very interesting,” said Shelvin, explaining how much she enjoyed learning about important figures involved in the group’s history, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Mary White Ovington, as well as the NAACP’s efforts to help establish the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park.
Summing up what made the event special for her and her young students, Lewis Elementary fourth-grade teacher Sheila Mayberry said, “We celebrate the here and now. But you don’t forget, and you respect those that came before you.”
A complete list of this year’s Spring ISD Black History Month Contest winners, together with their project titles, can be found below.
Elementary School Winners
PK-2 Individual Category
- 1st Place: Ana Lucia Rodriguez (McNabb ES),“The Influence of Africa Around the World”
- 2nd Place: Annamaria Busti (McNabb ES), “Celia Cruz”
- 3rd Place: Kameryn Alexander (Eickenroht ES), “The Impact of HBCUs”
PK-2 Group Category
- 1st Place: Soniyah Joseph, Kyle Burks, Kinsley Coleman, Jaceion Bates, Rylee Kearney, Rylee Taylor, “ I Have a Dream” (Major ES)
- 2nd Place: Trinity Dixon, Ava Cuevas, Asiah Lovelady, Carter Tyler, Amina Young, Isabella Matamoros, “Brown Skin Girl, Inspired by Beyoncé,” (Lewis ES)
- 3rd Place: Paisley Cooper, Audrey Piso, Kalece Moran, “Ruby Bridges Drawing” (Anderson ES)
3-5 Individual Category
- 1st Place: Camila Cotto (Link ES), “Africa’s Impact on the World”
- 2nd Place: Jasmine Rodriguez (Eickenroht ES), “Celia Cruz ArtWork”
- 3rd Place: Zenaya McDonald (School for Intl. Studies at Bammel), “African Culture On The Inside”
3-5 Group Category
- 1st Place: Jillian Jones and Janae Jones, “Misty Copeland & Dr. Aziza Glass” (Major ES)
- 2nd Place: Kaliyah Dirden, Caleb Pinke, Juanita Lett, “A Tale of Black Tales” (Clark ES)
- 3rd Place: Niya Lawrence and Oscareli Gomez, “Stacy Abraham Slideshow” (Booker ES)
Middle School Winners
6-8 Individual Category
- 1st Place: Minh Pham (Roberson MS), “Ruby Bridges Poem”
- 2nd Place: Steeven Pleitez Quintanilla (Spring Leadership Academy), “Unnamed Lady Artwork”
- 3rd Place: Aniya Barrett (School for Intl. Studies at Bammel), “Wilma Rudolph”
6-8 Group Category
- 1st Place: Alma Koumba, Jessica Llyod, Isaiah Salinas, “Black Rebellion Slideshow Presentation” (Claughton MS)
- 2nd Place: Alexander Lewis, Joseph Reed, William Reyes-Canales, “Trap Music and Its Influence on Black History, Music Video Presentation” (Bailey MS)
- 3rd Place: James Green, Na’jay Hayes, Brayan Herreria, Jeremiah Neal, Nolberto Pena, “Shirley Chisholm” (Wells MS)
High School Winners
High School Individual Category
- 1st Place: Nnekka Ahaiwe (Wunsche HS), “Africa’s Impact on the World: Afrobeats in America Since the 2000s”
High School Group Category
- 1st Place: Xavier Phipps, Anthony Russell, Chelsea Ursin, Taylah Jarvis, Isabel Rincon, America Lerma, Lizet Pineda, Natalie Santos, Alethea Masias, Amber DeLong, Jocelyn Lopez, Jeimmy Zavaleta, Monica Gudino, Paola Perez, “The Plot of Joseph Skipper, a Play” (Dekaney HS)
- 2nd Place: Janiya Mills and Samya Huff, “Multifaceted” (Spring Early College HS)
- 3rd Place: Shahzad Murray and Nevaeh Craft, “Black History” (Westfield HS)