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King School

An independent day school educating students PreK-Grade 12

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King Students Celebrate Black Excellence
LS Presnetation

As Black History Month drew to a close, students in all divisions enjoyed presentations that celebrated Black culture and excellence.

The Upper School Ensemble Band kicked off a dynamic assembly in the lower school gymnasium with upbeat jazz music to the delight of lower school students on Monday, February 26. 

The band performed rousing renditions of “April in Paris” by Count Basie, “Songs for My Father” by Horace Silver, and “Everything Turns Gray” by the No BS! Brass Band. Between songs, conductor and Chair of the Performing Arts Department Garrett Mendez discussed African-American music’s influence on modern compositions.

“Taking from an old African tradition called a ring shout, it became a tradition to create music as a community so everybody had a role and part to play,” Mendez told the audience. “That’s transformed all the music we play today, including soul, jazz, blues, gospel, and rock and roll.”


Following the performance, the Lower School Student Council shared facts about the annual celebration and notable Black Americans.

“The United States has been celebrating Black History Month since the 1920s,” said Edward Gigliotti ’31. “Today, we would like to share the names of a few outstanding people we should all know.”

Edward spoke of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quest for equality before passing the microphone to Calliope Heimbold ’31, who shared facts about the first Black woman pilot, Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to travel to space, Mae Jemison, and the first Black president, Barack Obama.


“There are countless other individuals in our history,” Calliope concluded. “We thank them and celebrate the incredible contributions they have made in our nation and the world.”

Clyde Beverly ’33 shared an original speech with his peers discussing the perseverance of Black Americans in the face of struggle and adversity.

“We should all be proud of our black ancestors. They didn't give up. They believed that the future could be better. They were determined to make things better. I want to be like them,” said Clyde.

First grade students shared artwork and writings highlighting African-American change makers that inspired them before being joined by second grade students and lower school music teacher Rachel Salem. The group concluded the assembly with a performance of “Funga Alafia,” a welcome song from Liberia.


In Middle and Upper School, students welcomed New York Times ´╗┐Bestselling author Ibi Zoboi on Tuesday, February 27.

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in New York City, Zoboi spoke with both groups about what inspired her to become an author.

In the Middle School Commons, she described to students in Grades 6 through 8 how growing up in a neighborhood with no bookstores and limited library access meant the majority of the media she consumed was on television. Showing a slide featuring cultural icons Pipi Longstocking, Punky Brewster, and Laura Ingalls, she said, “I loved these characters, but sometimes my favorite movies and TV shows weren’t about me. I wanted to feel pride in where I was from, so I started to write stories about myself, my friends, and my community.”

Middle School

Addressing upper school students in the Performing Arts Center, Zoboi’s talk focused on the power individuals have to choose their own values and stand up for what they believe in.

“When you believe in something, you want the world to be a better place,” she said. “What systems would you create in order to be your best self? What new codes would you live by? What do you need in order to live your best life? How will the world be a better place with this new version of you?” 

Zoboi spoke directly with the Students of Color at King (SOCK), the middle school affinity group, and the Black Student Union (BSU) during lunch. The smaller setting allowed for more intimate conversation. 

SOCK members shared their favorite parts of Zoboi’s presentations and their appreciation for the energy she brought. BSU members asked Zoboi about what it was like growing up in New York in the 80s and 90s with parents from the Caribbean. Her perspectives resonated with the students as it was revealed to her that many of the students in the room also had Caribbean ancestry.

Upper School