Student unions celebrate Black History Month

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Feb. 13, Haslett High School on a cloudy Monday afternoon.

Bradley Merlo

Feb. 13, Haslett High School on a cloudy Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday Feb. 7, the Meridian Township board passed a resolution in support of Black History Month.

As a district, Meridian Township is very diverse and is proud of the black heritage in its community.

“Our district is also frequently looking for ways to further educate students on the importance of acceptance,” said Brixie. Brixie, is the treasurer of Meridian Township.

“Okemos and Haslett public schools both have Black Student Unions that former trustee Milton Scales helped start,” said Julie Brixie.

Trustee Milton Scales reinforced the message of acceptance in schools by developing the first Black Student Unions in Haslett, in 2014. Scales and the Meridian School District looked for ways to further educate students on the importance of acceptance.

Throughout February, under the guidance of Scales, Okemos students are celebrating and honoring Black History Month in their Student Union, a new Black Student Union that Scales helped start.

“At Okemos, a teacher was impressed with the advancement that had taken place in Haslett and they reached out to me [to see] if I would help facilitate their group [Okemos High School]. I helped them develop their bylaws. And we did it interactively, where we established the rules of operation and also how to elect their student officers,” said Scales.

“I told them [Okemos Black Student Union] I would help them [raise money] only if they tried to do a project that would benefit the school in return,” said Scales.

After helping start the Haslett Black Student Union in 2014, Scales spread that same message to the new Black Student Union in Okemos.

“Both schools are working on quotes and information to get out to their schools,” said Scales.

Scales is also educating the students by planning field trips this month and bringing in speakers to encourage black history and culture.

“I held a fundraiser in 2016 to raise $1,000 – I ended up raising $2,600 for both the Schools Unions. We use that money to buy T-shirts and to take field trips. Last year I took them to the Motown Museum and this year I am planning on taking them to the Museum of African American History (Detroit, MI) downtown,” said Scales.   

On Feb. 21, Okemos High School is planning another guest speaker.

“Emmett Till’s cousin is coming to speak to the High School students and community as a whole,” said Scales.

Meanwhile in Haslett High School, Principal Bart Wegenke is planning events for his own school’s Black Student Union.

Haslett High School's build board showcases the schools upcoming events.

Bradley Merlo

Haslett High School’s build board showcases the schools upcoming events.

“We began our celebration of Black History Month with having 15 of our African-American male students participate in the Phi Beta Sigma Youth Workshop. This is a wonderful leadership and networking opportunity for our students. The event was held at the Hannah Center in East Lansing. Also, our Black Student Union has planned daily activities, such as, daily announcements on Black History facts and guest speakers, to support Black History Month,” said Wegenke.

Scales admits Haslett High School’s Black Student Union is progressively ahead in terms of planning activities, however Okemos High School is advancing in size and activity.

“It’s nice to see the students interested and engaged,” said Scales.

“Even though the name of it is Black Student Union, it is not for black students only. There is a racial mixture in both of those Student Unions and the focus is put on contemporary black issues and they (Student Unions) welcome anyone who wants to learn about the black culture. That is the purpose of them is to educate about the black culture,” said Scales.

 

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