The Falmouth Public Schools have been working in collaboration with No Place For Hate-Falmouth over the last year to conduct Juneteenth events that will recognize the historically and culturally important holiday.
A year ago in June, after the murder of George Floyd, the nonprofit ran a safe place fundraiser to raise money for organizations doing racial justice work. Specifically, at No Place For Hate, the money was allocated for the schools to develop a Juneteenth program.
“Our role here is really to not only to work with the schools but to help bring the community together around this commemoration,” said the Reverend Nell Fields, a member of the No Place For Hate steering committee.
Juneteenth is the oldest celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. This date has long been celebrated within the African American community and has become a recognized state holiday or observance in 47 states, including the commonwealth.
This is the first time the Falmouth school district is actively commemorating the holiday.
Juneteenth events in the Falmouth public schools:
- The author of “Juneteenth Jamboree,” Carol Boston Weatherford will provide a one-hour virtual author talk for children in grades kindergarten to 4 on June 9. Ms. Boston Weatherford will be joined by her son, Jeffery Boston Weatherford, a professional illustrator who will share interactive spoken words and guide students through a project. The Falmouth Education Foundation provided funding to give each classroom and library a copy of “Juneteenth Jamboree.” The virtual author visit is supported by No Place for Hate-Falmouth, Eight Cousins Bookstore, and FPS.
- Charles Waters, author of “Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z,” will provide a virtual author talk for Morse Pond students in grades 5 and 6. Each entry presents a word such as “ally” or “respect,” connecting its meaning to acceptance and betterment for everyone. The dictionary-style book also contains poems from inspiring persons, and prompts for at-home or school activity. The Morse Pond PTO will gift a signed copy of the book to each of the 5th grade students.
- Plans at the Lawrence School were generated by student- and adult-led groups with a focus on social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. With one or two weeks leading up to Juneteenth, information about the holiday will be released to grades 7 and 8. Students will have the opportunity to decorate a commemorative wreath either individually or as part of a group. The idea is for students to be able to take these decorations home and continue the celebration beyond school walls.
- In collaboration with No Place for Hate-Falmouth, the Falmouth Art Center and the Falmouth Public Library, the Falmouth public schools are hosting a student poster contest for students in grades kindergarten through 12. Students have the opportunity to develop a 2021 commemorative poster and have their artwork showcased following a review process at the Falmouth Art Center and the main branch of the Falmouth Public Library. Each poster will include a description from the artist to later be compiled into a brochure to commemorate the event beyond June.
- Juneteenth-centered music performances will be presented by Mullen-Hall grade 1 students who will be featured in a video performance to the music, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” choreographed by music teacher Teresa Jazo. The FHS Wind Ensemble is also producing a virtual performance of “Down by the River,” directed by band director Kayla Peard.
- Students from Falmouth High School as well as Mashpee have partnered to interview African American scientists in the Woods Hole professional community to bring forth their experiences and stories for the forthcoming STEM Fest film series. A live premiere viewing of the students’ documentary is planned for Thursday, June 17, at 7 PM, through Zoom and social media, with the full version to be posted to YouTube at a later date. The Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Woods Hold Diversity Committee are also partnering to bring this project together.
- The FHS Clippers for Racial & Social Justice Group is planning a racial and social justice awareness week during the week prior to Juneteenth. Also, the Falmouth Schools director of food services Andrea Burnes plans to prepare red foods in each school to be shared with all students the week of June 14.