The staff and students of Red Bank Regional (RBR) engaged in many fabulous events and activities to celebrate Black History Month (BHM) which was organized by a special, hard-working committee of faculty and staff. These are indicative of the projects and programs the high school undertakes throughout the school year.
Daily announcements greeted students with factoids on African American history.
Portraits of famous African Americans, created by RBR’s commercial art students, were sprinkled throughout the school for a fun identification-scavenger hunt. Special projects by RBR’s social studies and English classes were on display including a timeline of events in black history and promotional pamphlets heralding various African American authors’ works, to name a few. Each Friday in February, highlights of a different movie on the African American experience were broadcast in the auditorium—including Ali, and Remember the Titans.
Students also took part in two school-wide projects. The first, a patchwork paper quilt modeled the quilts that African American families fashioned to communicate
family lore and history. During the lunch hour, students created patches for
the quilt that ultimately represents the fabric that is the diverse RBR community. Secondly, students participated in playing BHM Jeopardy competitions also during lunch periods. RBR’s creative writing majors visited student classrooms performing their works celebrating black history.
The highlight of the black history celebration was a special assembly twice
performed to accommodate the entire student body.
Principal Risa Clay welcomed the students stating that “African American history is
America’s history; all of us benefit when we celebrate the history of all our
The program, an impressive effort by many groups within the school began with a
stirring video set to the Negro African Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” A
giant screen streamed pictures of the African American experience from the
horrors of slavery to the battles for Civil Rights and the culmination of the inauguration of America’s first Black President.
Senior Lynese Rawlins summarized this progress stating, “To think about how far we have come is truly amazing.”
RBR’s Visual and Performing Arts Academy talent was on full display as dance majors danced to beautiful choreography set to African American songs telling the story of America’s Black Women. Lynese narrated brief biographies on women she termed “Sheroes” from Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks, to Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelo and finally Michele Obama, America’s first African American First Lady.
Creative writing majors performed a duet of famous quotes interspersed between the lines of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream Speech.” A Motown melody entertained the crowd, whom sang along at times, with the instrumental music performed by the RBR String Ensemble. Additionally, RBR’s Chamber Choir performed an ebullient African folk song.
The RBR International Club presented their special project on the continent of Africa, which they termed, “The Motherland.” In their attempt to dispel myths most people have of the African continent, they highlighted its vibrant culture,
music, arts, natural wonders and amazing people. RBR’s African American History
class students discussed the lives of many famous and influential African
Americans throughout our history.
One of RBR’s own African American success stories, Lamar Brown, from the class of 2005, addressed the assembly as its Keystone speaker. Lamar graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Communications and Political Science. He
distinguished himself as a two-time nationally qualifying freestyle
All-American wrestler. As Rutgers’ wresting captain for three years, he was
ranked as high as 12 in the nation. He currently is a volunteer coach for RBR’s
wrestling team as he forges his career in the marketing industry.
He vividly described his upbringing, with humor and humility, as the only male in a small Red Bank home. Although he was the baby of the house with four older sisters, he quickly grew up to be the man of the house and father figure to his nieces and nephews. He did not complain. Instead he told the students, “He embraced it. Those were the cards I was dealt.”
Sometime in middle school, he took charge of his life and transformed a chubby adolescent into a competitive athlete. During his years at RBR, he not only excelled athletically as a championship wrestler, but academically, realizing early that strong academics aligned with wrestling was his ticket to college and a better
life. Although he was the only Black student in his AP classes, he stated, “It
never bothered me. I embraced it.” He referenced his story to Martin Luther King’s dream stating, “I am living the dream; for never do I feel that I am being judged by the color of my skin, but by the content of my character.” He
added, “And it is my mission to make a difference in this world.”
He told the students to repeat after him chanting, “We are all Black History… we will all make a difference …because we are RBR.”
A showstopper was a surprise rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” sung by the Red Bank preschoolers, who share the campus with their RBR brothers and sisters. Standing upon the stage displaying their crayoned-paper candles, they unabashedly belted out the lyrics to the song while sporting huge, bright smiles. They proudly took a bow to thunderous applause, visually representing the tableau that is America --- White, Black, Hispanic and Asian.