East Point Academy has been alive with excitement throughout the month of February as students, staff and community members came together to celebrate Black History Month. The school’s tagline is, “Merging Cultures. Inspiring Minds. Expanding Horizons.”
Each day, the morning announcements started off with a Black History Month trivia question. All students had the opportunity to answer questions and the student who had the most correct answers from each campus won a gift certificate and a custom Black History Month t-shirt, designed for the occasion. T-shirts, which featured a Black History Month graphic, the East Point Logo and a quote from NASA pioneer, Katherine Johnson, were also available for purchase to students, staff and parents. Second grader Eden Smith was the elementary campus trivia winner and seventh grader Hanna Sophia Dornik claimed the title for the middle campus.
Each class chose an important, historical African-American figure and did an in-depth research project highlighting their contributions and achievements. Some classes even translated their projects into Mandarin Chinese, which is taught at the school using a 50-50 language immersion model.
“As a global school, we are constantly merging different cultures. It was fun to see so many different cultural elements come together for this project,” said first grade Mandarin teacher Kiki Gao.
The project culminated in a living wax museum exhibit. One student from each class dressed as their chosen figure, while the other students had the opportunity to tour the exhibit.
Second grader Laken Smith, who played the role of Jackie Robinson, said, “It was exciting to see so many great costumes. It is important to let people see what [the figures] did to help others and for us to honor them.”
The grand finale to the month-long celebration was an assembly at both the elementary and middle school campuses. The assemblies featured the Gye Nyame dance troupe, Condor Elementary’s Steel Pan Drum Troupe, lead by East Point parent Davin Lail, and keynote speaker Larry Haltiwanger. Haltiwanger is a well-known figure in the local education scene. He shared with students his experiences as a graduate of Richlex High School, which was the last segregated high school to close in the Columbia area in 1968.
“The program celebrates our diversity and emphasizes the importance of learning about different backgrounds,” said related arts teacher Kim Gamble, who lead the Black History Month committee.
The assemblies were attended by students, parents and community members, including special guest West Columbia Mayor Bobby Horton.
The month-long celebration was a great success and enhanced the learning of East Point students from all grades.
“As a leader in global education, East Point Academy makes it a priority to infuse many different cultures into the curriculum of the rich and rigorous education we provide for the students we serve, all year long. The Black History Month celebration is an important part of that,” said East Point Head of School Mark Bounds.
East Point Academy, founded in 2011, is a globally minded public charter school in West Columbia, S.C., serving over 630 students in preschool through eighth grade. East Point students at the elementary level receive half of their daily instruction in Mandarin Chinese. Middle school students receive approximately 25% of their daily instruction in Mandarin, with placement from novice to advanced levels. The school is tuition free and open to all students in S.C., regardless of their zoned district.
East Point Academy has been voted Best Private or Charter School in Columbia by the readers of the Free Times and the State’s Best Public Charter School by the readers of The State newspaper. It has also been named a top school of 2019 by Niche and a South Carolina Public Charter School District School of Distinction.