Trinity School Celebrates Black History Month with Music and Workshops

Trinity C of E Primary School rounded off Black History Month last Thursday with a one-off, activity-packed ‘Black History Day of Culture’. Throughout the day, children from all year groups took part in music, dance, art and poetry workshops focused on the works of influential Black people.

The school have been observing Black History Month throughout October, each week studying the story of a famous Black person. In week one, they learnt about Nelson Mandela; in week two, it was Katherine Johnson; and in week three, Tessa Sanderson. They also looked at the works of influential Black musicians each day, including the likes of Aretha Franklin and Louis Armstrong.

Their three week long celebration of Black History Month culminated in the ‘Black History Day of Culture’ on Thursday. Every child across the whole school took part in three workshops. In a music workshop, they learnt about the history of reggae, and listened to songs by musicians such as Bob Marley. A poetry workshop taught the children about the works of Amanda Gorman and Joseph Coehlo (whom one of the classes is named after). Years 3 to 6 took part in an art workshop with StartArt Henley, part of the Henley School of Art, whilst years 1 and 2 were taught by a resident expert teacher. In the art workshops, the students looked at artists such as Faith Ringgold and William Johnson, creating their own pieces inspired by the famous Black artists’ works. Meanwhile, Reception had an African Dance workshop, run by an ex parent of Trinity School.

Caroline Newman, Deputy Headteacher, said that the children have really engaged with Black History Month, revealing: “We had four Year 1 girls bring in these booklets that they’d made about Rosa Parks in their own time at home. They came to the Headteacher’s and my office yesterday, and just hearing this little Year 1 girl talking to me about why it was so unfair what happened to Rosa Parks and how she was so brave because she sat on a bus and didn’t move and got arrested, for a six year old to know that is really powerful. It will inspire her in the future as well.”

As part of their Black History Month celebrations, Trinity School are also conducting a ‘pebble project’. On Thursday, every child decorated a pebble based on an inspirational person they learnt about, each including a word to describe their chosen person. Caroline explained, “The aim is that around half term (because it’s still Black History Month next week), they can place them around Henley and people might see them, just to raise awareness.”

To top off the week, Trinity held a special outdoor concert on Friday morning, with each phase performing a different song by a Black musician. Reception sang ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley; Year 1 and 2 performed Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’; Year 3 and 4 sang ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E. King, and for Year 5 and 6, it was ‘Respect’ by Aretha Franklin. 

Caroline Newman said on Thursday, “It will be the first time post-covid that we’ve all been together as a school. We haven’t had whole school assemblies, so we haven’t been all together as a school in one place in two years. It will be so nice.”

Speaking more broadly about the Black History Month events, Caroline said, “We wanted to celebrate the whole month, but we wanted a one-off day where the children could have those really memorable experiences.

“We’ve done Black History Month before but we’ve never gone as big as we’ve gone this year. I think it’s really important that we celebrate the diversity of Henley and also make sure that they are aware of the importance of Black heritage and culture and the music that they probably recognise, because a lot of it is Black influential musicians and artists.”