Black History
Elycia Sanchez, 9, talks about Dr. Patricia Bath on Friday as students host an African American History Museum in honor of Black History Month at South Main Street School. Edward Lea

PLEASANTVILLE - Students at South Main Street School celebrated Black History Month on Friday by hosting an African American History Museum that promoted day dreaming.

Principal Rosemay Clarke said every year the students are given a theme to follow and this year is was about the power of a dream.

As soon as guests entered the school, students were eager to show off their projects that either told what their dream was or gave an example of a black American who accomplished their dream.

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But before kindergarten teacher Eugene Croff could get his students to express their goals and ambitions, he had to get them to understand what a dream was.

"Many of them knew that a dream was something that happened when they went to sleep," Croff said. "So what we talked a lot about was that a dream was also something they could wish for."

And from there, Croff sent students home to learn more about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. through a parent involvement exercise, which helped teach them more about the civil rights movement and the fight for racial equality.

"A lot of my students are not African American, so what ends up happening is they go home to research and discuss a project like this with their parents and it helps the entire family appreciate the lesson," he said.

Then, throughout the hallways, Croff's students hung mobiles that illustrated their dreams - from wanting to be a police officer to wanting to be a princess, from wanting everyone to stay together to wanting to play with a baby brother.

In a separate hallway, third-graders displayed posters of black inventors - such as Otis Boykin, who invented a control unit for heart pacemakers - and that showcased how their inventions benefited society.

School counselor Cynthia Stocks said the students also were encouraged to implement technology into the projects.

Carol Small-Smith's second-grade class put together a PowerPoint presentation on black leaders, such as educational pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune, who started a school for black students in Daytona Beach, Fla., that eventually became Bethune-Cookman University.

Fifth-grade teacher Raymond Frazier's class brought the dream theme full circle by doing a PowerPoint presentation on their dreams and examples of blacks who attained the same dream.

"Getting them to talk about what their dream is and then research someone who was able accomplish the same dream gives them encouragement to hold on to their dream because it is possible," Frazier said.

Fifth-grader Ameenah Salaam's dream was to be a veterinarian.

"I love animals, and the way they suffer is so sad and horrible," said Salaam, 11. "I want to help."

Classmate Robert Jefferson said he wants to be a rapper like Lil' Wayne because "he makes songs that everybody in the world likes."

Fifth-grader Jennifer Aguilera, 10, said she wants to be a make-up artist because of her love of drawing, and 11-year-old classmate David Prado made it very clear on his PowerPoint slide what his dream was.

"This is where I'll live when I'm 35," he wrote next to a picture of the White House.

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