Students at Curtis High School on Staten Island celebrated Black History Month with an assembly highlighting multicultural dances, music, and fashion, and honored teachers and mentors who have had an impact on the community.
Students began the program by singing the Negro National Anthem, which was written by brothers John and James Johnson in the early 1900s. The song, officially titled “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” honors renowned educator Booker T. Washington.
The crowd was also treated to a performance from the dance team, which used music from popular black artists such as Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar and incorporated older forms of dance like the Swing.
Students wore traditional African and Caribbean clothing with bold and bright patterns during the fashion show, and exhibited fashion popularized by black Americans.
The Dynasty Steppers, dressed in red and gray military fatigues, also performed. Steppers use their entire bodies as instruments, combining military drills with African foot dances to create elaborate routines.
After students performed, educators and community leaders received plaques celebrating their commitment to students and the larger Staten Island community. Spanish teacher Richard Burton, living environment teacher Victoria Williams, Master Sergeant Kenneth Wiggins, a drill instructor, NYPD Sergeant Sherwin Ogbwele, and Joe Etienne, a firefighter with the FDNY, were all honored.
The keynote address was given by Anthony Wilson, the CEO of Cleer Multi-Strategies, a private wealth management company he founded in 2018. Wilson is a mentor at Curtis High School who provides guidance to young people.
“In the past, through battles, through wars, through civil rights, through voting rights, it was the youth that moved the generation,” he said at the assembly. “It is your turn to define the course of this nation. All of us here encourage you to discover your passion.”