Jumping for Joy: CITL Students Celebrate Black History Month  

Jumping for Joy: CITL Students Celebrate Black History Month  

If you were lucky enough to experience the Black History Month assembly at the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) at Port Ewen, you may still be feeling the reverberations of the celebration that engulfed the gymnasium with energy and enthusiasm. The program consisted of speeches, poems, PowerPoint presentations, songs, and a dance workshop with the Center for Creative Education (CCE).

Students Donnie Boston, from the New Paltz Central School District, and Evan Tucker, from the Kingston City School District (KCSD), shared the microphone, reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring "I  Have A Dream" speech to set the assembly’s reverent tone. The poem “The Hill We Climb” by former National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman was delivered by an  enthusiastic trio of readers: Abigail Puffer from KCSD, Brian Belliveau from the Wappingers Central School District, and Justin Pedro from the Arlington Central School District. There were shouts of encouragement and fist bumps between performances as they passed the microphone to the next presenter.

Personal PowerPoint presentations shared by Matthew Rilley, from Red Hook Central School District, and Jaeden Morales, from Newburgh Enlarged City School District, included references to favorite actors, artists, and historical figures, with colorful collaged slides illuminating the importance of Black History Month.  

When the microphone was passed to Lawrence Cole from KCSD, the crowd was in for a treat, as he sang a soulful, expressive song by Bessie Smith. After his performance, the gym exploded with applause.

The last part of the assembly was described in the program as "CCE Fun," which was an understatement. Center for Creative Education Executive Director Bryant “Drew” Andrews brought his talented staff to dance and celebrate with everyone. Choreographer Lisa Brown led the enthusiastic attendees onto the gym floor for some hip-hop fun. And fun it was! 

Striking poses, synchronized steps, and smiles filled the gym with joy. Andrews brought everyone together at the end for what he called a "Circle of Love," cheering on the person in the circle's center and encouraging them to express themselves in dance. Claps alongside the hip-hop beats accompanied by cheers of encouragement brought everyone together to celebrate Black History Month. By the end of the afternoon, it was clear that this Black History Month assembly was more than just an event—it was a vibrant celebration of unity, talent, and the rich history that connects us all.

Special thanks to CITL staff members Eva Kaloudis, Donna Valea, Faith Rodriguez, and Jerome Wilson, for organizing this engaging and meaningful experience for our learners. 

Students participating in an assembly