Fourth Period Classes Decorate Doors for Black Excellence Month


Mika Strickler

During the month of February, teachers and students celebrated Black Excellence Month with a door decorating contest to honor the contributions of Black scholars, leaders, activists, and other figures. 

Fourth period classes–or fifth period for teachers who don’t have a fourth period class– competed to decorate their classroom doors to showcase important figures for Black Excellence Month. Attendance technician Rashawnia Sallee-Jackson introduced the idea of Black Excellence Month door decorating to the Black Student Union (BSU) and Leadership, since she’s done this activity at schools she’s worked at in the past. “ I think it helps to show the students all aspects of a culture that they might not know much about, or even have had misconstrued information about. It opens up minds, eyes, conversations and hearts. It also often leads to students asking questions, reading more, doing research to learn about these important members of American History,” Sallee-Jackson said.


BSU and Leadership’s Equity and Curriculum Commissions introduced the contest by announcing the challenge to teachers and judging the doors after school on Feb. 21. The goal of the competition was to educate students on Black excellence figures and build awareness of the successes of Black contributors.   

Designs varied by teacher, and many teachers chose to showcase themes and people that are relevant to their subjects. Latin teacher Jennifer Mullowney’s door displayed Black professors that teach about the classical world, while AP Environmental Science Jyllian Smith’s door exhibited Black scientists. Additionally, English and Deconstructing Race teacher Steve Poling’s door was decorated with examples of Afro-futurism, a genre that focuses on the combination of science-fiction elements and technology and African culture. “My door design, Afro-futurism, is inspired by black musicians, artists, and writers who use their creative talents and unique perspectives to envision a better future,” Poling said.  

The competition marks an effort to highlight the positives of Black history rather than the negatives. “The door decorating is significant because it educates the students about the excellent achievements in Black history in America instead of only focusing on horrible events like slavery or racist brutality” junior Harshal Puranik, a member of Leadership’s Equity Commission, said.

BSU and the Equity Commission chose three winning doors: Rebecca Promessi’s classroom 111, Matthew Sweeney’s classroom 163, and Kelly Ginnochio’s classroom 181. Promessi’s door honored victims of police violence, Sweeney’s featured examples of Black resistance, and Ginnochio’s was a map of Black excellence around the world. The classes won a donut breakfast. “It is too hard to pick just one door as my favorite. To be honest it simply warmed my heart to see the effort and energy that all the classes put into accomplishing their respective doors. Each one of them warmed my heart and the fact that everyone put so much effort into them brought tears to my eyes,” Sallee-Jackson said.