FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Black History Month may have come to an end, but many schools hope the lessons learned will last a lifetime. The Clovis Unified School District is not only changing how it celebrates Black history, but it is also working to change the culture of the district.
In the past, each high school may have held its own event – but it was time to bring everyone together.
“There are some very, very brilliant and talented young African-American students in all of our campuses we wanted everyone to see all of that,” said Buchanan High School math teacher Rhonda Turney.
“We wanted to unify it in order to bring attention to the fact that all these students, they’re a part of Clovis Unified.”
The celebration was 100% student-driven, much like the middle school African American virtual student leadership conference. Both events designed to inspire students of color and bring awareness to all students.
“What it’s meant to me is I’ve just discovered so much about my heritage and I’ve realized that there is a lot that’s not being taught in schools,” said Buchanan High School student Romel Kent.
The way Black History Month is being celebrated in the Clovis Unified School District represents a change many have been working towards.
“We’re very aware that the perception of Clovis Unified is that it’s not an inclusive district,” said Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell. “The truth is we want to be inclusive we want all of our students and employees to have that respect and understanding of all cultures.”
In an effort to change the narrative, Superintendent O’Farrell meets on a regular basis with the student Intercultural Diversity Advisory Council. Students are able to share ideas and concerns directly with her. There is also an African American Student Union on each high school campus.
The district has made changes in its curriculum adding a cultural immersion program called Browder Scholars. If students complete the entire program they earn a certificate. This year there was a drive-by ceremony for graduates.
“My vision for Clovis Unified is a district that just locks arms with all of our students and all of our families and all of our staff and that our staff profile looks just like our entire community,” said Superintendent O’Farrell.