Students gear up for Black History Month program

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published February 13, 2014

HARPER WOODS — Harper Woods Schools’ Black History Month celebration is a bright moment in the district, a popular program that draws interest from eager students who want to be a part of it, and hundreds of parents and community members who come to watch.

This year’s event will run from 6-8:30 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Harper Woods Secondary School auditorium.
The event includes performances from students from Beacon, Tyrone and both the middle and high
schools, as well as a dinner reception following the student performances.

This year’s program has the theme “From Africa to America” and will include poems, monologues, songs
and more. Organizers plan to open the show with a performance from the jazz band, and there is a planned performance from an African dance company.

“It’s always been a remarkable show,” said district staff member and program coordinator Deborah
Whitelow. “I’m very impressed. It always seems like it’s not going to come together, (but then) it’s just fantastic.”

“The kids are excited,” staff member Joi Danforth said. “I can’t wait to see it all jell together — to see that finished product.”

The program drew a crowd of about 600 last year.

“They really come out for that program,” Whitelow said.

“It’s a really, really good program,” she said. “It’s my favorite to work on, along with the fine arts one.”

That fine arts program, in which students get to show off their artistic talent, is being planned again for later in the year.

Students take a lot of pride in this program, practicing and working together to make it a success. Harper Woods officials put in their fair share of hard work on the program, as well.

Whitelow, staff members Danforth and Tameka Gaddis, and school board member Tabithia Mahone have been working on the program.

“They’re instrumental in helping me put it together,” Whitelow said of the others. “They’re working with the students with the rehearsals.”

Because so many students are enthusiastic and want to take part, the district has to hold auditions each year to keep the program from running long.

After the performances, the afterglow program will include food and refreshments.

“I have something for everybody,” she said. “We try to appeal to everybody’s pallet.”

The menu also includes a variety of desserts.

This is an important program for Superintendent Todd Biederwolf, Whitelow said, adding that he “really puts a lot of effort in the program.”

Gaddis said the children are working hard for this year’s program.

“They never disappoint,” she said. “It’s coming together.”