Bellport MS Touts ‘Progress’ During Black History Month Ceremony

Bellport MS Touts ‘Progress’ During Black History Month Ceremony photo

In collaboration with S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth, Bellport Middle School presented Evolution of Dance and Music, the program for this year’s annual Black History Month celebration, held in the school auditorium on Feb. 26.

The evening was punctuated with performances by the middle school jazz ensemble, under the baton of Audrey Garcia. The Bellport Middle School Chorus, under the direction of Kyle Sherlock, performed John Legend’s “Glory,” and local dancer Aniya Heyward gave a talented tap dance performance. In addition, a poignant video presentation, James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” set the tone for the evening’s message about making progress and accepting black history as the nation’s and “our” own history.

After student Mistress of Ceremonies Madison Roberts welcomed the audience and Autumn Simon led the Pledge of Allegiance, Bishop Charles Bullock of Old South Haven Presbyterian Church in Brookhaven gave the invocation. Principal Dr. Jamal Colson set the theme of progress, claiming that progress can be made through community partnership and working together. He reminded students that they can make progress through adoption of the three “As,” attendance, attitude and striving for achievement. 

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman (District 1) Valerie Cartright, who is Brookhaven Town’s first African-American and person of Haitian descent to be elected to the town’s government, noted that the struggle of others is part of black Americans’ progress. She said, “It is important to be present in everything in our community. We need to ask whether we are expressing our voice.”

Bellport Middle School teacher Loraine Richardson-McCray noted that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “with love” progressive and revolutionary correspondence and speeches in addition to the notable “I Have a Dream” speech. Ms. Richardson-McCray also encouraged the audience to read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” 

Students Samir Bell and Bobby John gave the celebration’s closing remarks. “We have to come together, stay together and be one,” Bobby said. “Without struggle, there is no progress.”

After the ceremony in the auditorium, participants were invited to continue the evening’s celebration of black history with dancing and dinner provided by Arooga’s Grill House and Sports Bar, Bravo, Café Castello Restaurant and Pizzeria, Café Gia, Cirillo’s IGA, Del Fuego, Empire State After School Program, Gaby’s Deli & Grocery, New Bethel First Pentecostal Church of America, Inc., Super Deli, Sicilia D’Oro, Stop & Shop and The Journey.