Shrewsbury High celebrates Black History Month with new project
By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Perspective is subjective. Recognizing this, educators at Shrewsbury High School (SHS) are utilizing this concept in a project that will bring the SHS community together to share individual views of the world. This project, called “Perspective,” is part of the school’s celebration of Black History month. It was funded by a grant from the Shrewsbury Education Foundation (SEF) which was written by Pam LeBlanc, director of Visual Arts, and Liza Trombley, director of English.
Each year, the Black History Committee, led by faculty co-advisors Denise Satterfield and Mario Gonzales, join forces with the Art and English departments to encourage students to create work based on a theme or title. This year’s theme, “Perspective,” encourages students to respect others’ feelings and beliefs.
According to the grant, “the mission of the Black History Committee is to ‘broaden the worldview of the Shrewsbury High School student body and to seek to recognize the contributions of African Americans to American history.’ The committee seeks to remind students that black history is not just about race, it’s about who we are as a nation, where we have come from, and where we are going.”
“Perspective” will provide a creative outlet for all students at SHS to affirm their own importance and contribution to the SHS community through a “collaborative visual and literary art installation.”
The project was inspired by artist Tim Kelly and “The Puzzle Art Installation and Collaborative Project” created in 2009 and Brandan Doman’s “The Strangers’ Project.”
This innovative project welcomes all students, regardless of skill to share their world perspective and, ultimately, bring the school community together. The project was featured during a schoolwide assembly Feb. 14. Students’ art and writing contributions will remain up for view through the end of the month. The goal is for these puzzle pieces to come together as one unit, recognizing that each piece is different but also necessary and important to the whole. This clothesline will illustrate that everyone’s chapters are equal in importance to the collective story. Satterfield was inspired by a clothesline art installation that she had seen in New York City.
“We must begin a conversation about race and bias in this country so that we can work to heal the divide that exists and is so prevalent,” the grant stated. “We do not see this project as an end. If we do not open the lines of communication, we can never really understand one another or the world in which we live.”
SEF Board member Sandy Fryc said, “I particularly loved the connection with writing, art and the historical significance of this grant request. It provided a creative way for students, regardless of their level of ability to have a voice through a medium that fits their particular interests.”
“We’ve always done a Black History Month presentation at the High School with an associated art project and writing contest,” Trombley explained. “Pam [LeBlanc] kicked the art element off differently this year with the puzzle pieces.”
According to LeBlanc, they wanted to get away from the contest idea this year and open it up for all students, honoring all students and be more inclusive.
“In the past it was only the Studio Class that was required to do the art component,” she explained. “But, in this way we were trying to pull together Black History, all the art students and the whole school to relay that everybody has a piece of this world.”
Trombley added, “Students in all the English classes were encouraged to write something.”
All school announcements were made to encourage whole student body involvement.
Both Trombley and LeBlanc are grateful to the SEF for funding this project and LeBlanc acknowledged Phil Lacroix at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School and his students in the drafting and design technology program for drafting and laser cutting approximately 150 puzzle pieces.
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