West Allis Central High School’s Black Student Union Hosts Numerous Events During Black History Month

West Allis Central High School’s Black Student Union Hosts Numerous Events During Black History Month
Posted on 03/03/2021
This is the image for the news article titled West Allis Central High School’s  Black Student Union Hosts Numerous Events During Black History MonthThroughout the month of February, the West Allis Central Black Student Union planned and staged a series of successful community events to promote understanding, unity, and the power of partnership. The mission of Central’s Black Student Union is to create a more unified school environment for all. 

According to student founder and president, senior Zoe King, “We aim to do this by providing a safe and educational space for all students to engage in discussions pertaining to the Black community, promoting a positive image of Black people through social engagement, and empowering our members. The positive response to the events we organized and hosted for this year’s Black History Month has been overwhelming. We are happy to have the support of our community so we can continue to fulfill our mission. With these events we were able to make important connections and we plan to continue to foster these relationships.”

Town Hall Meeting
On February 23, 2021, West Allis Central’s Black Student Union hosted a virtual town hall meeting.  The event was held on Zoom and was attended by students, staff, and community members. County Executive David Crowley kicked off the event with a formal address about increasing racial equity in Milwaukee County for the benefit of all its citizens. City of West Allis Mayor Dan Devine spoke next, followed by West Allis-West Milwaukee School District Superintendent, Dr. Marty Lexmond. 

“Our goal was to provide a forum to learn about regional and local efforts to promote racial justice, equity, and solidarity across our community and region,” explained BSU Advisor Carrie Hansen. “We wanted to provide a safe space for students to ask questions and offer their ideas for building a stronger community.”

Following the opening presentations, West Allis Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Wright and West Allis Central’s Police Liaison Officer, Sergeant Nicole Moews of the West Allis Police Department joined the panel for a lively question and answer session led by BSU members asking questions to the panelists that came in from event participants through the online meeting’s chat feature. 

“We felt honored that so many prominent members of our community readily accepted our invitation to participate,” shared BSU Advisor and School Counselor, Nate Rice. “Our students have been inspired by Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley's call for racial equity and how it will make Milwaukee County stronger, together.  They wanted to celebrate the County Executive's attainment of his position, as the first Black man, and youngest person to serve in this position in Milwaukee County history.”

“Overall, we wanted to promote and better understand ideas and initiatives at the local level that are supportive of racial justice and equity as a platform to bring us together in common purpose to support each other,” adds Hansen.  “We wanted to center and represent Black voices of local leadership to our students and broader community as we celebrate Black History month together.”

Leadership Forum
Following the town hall meeting, the next afternoon Central’s Black Student Union hosted a Leadership Forum on February 24, 2021. 

The guests included Marquette University Police Department Chief Edith Hudson, UW-Milwaukee Professor and lifelong educator/educational leader, Dr. Florence Johnson, Fox 6 WakeUp News Anchor Kim Murphy and City of Milwaukee Health Department Violence Prevention Manager Jamaal Smith.   

“Each of our guests is a Black leader in the metro-Milwaukee community and they represent a range of career fields,” explained Advisor Paige Bauske. “It was exciting to hear them share their stories and specifically focus on the theme of leadership in their lives.”
  
The enthusiastic participants shared their wisdom and insights about their personal definitions of leadership and what inspires them to make a positive difference in their communities. Inspired by the voices of students, and the opportunity to help shape our future, all four presenters generously offered to continue to serve as a resource to Central HS’s BSU in the future. 

Elementary & Intermediate School Outreach
Another key component of Central’s Black History Month celebration was visiting elementary and intermediate school classrooms at Jefferson, Longfellow, Pershing, and West Milwaukee for Black History Month presentations and “read alouds.”

BSU members delivered 25 Black History Month presentations to help students understand the history of Black History Month, why it was created, and why it is important to celebrate. The presentations energized everyone in the room from students, to teachers and aides, to the presenters themselves.  

In addition to the presentations, BSU members read a story to students in 12 classrooms at Hoover and Jefferson Elementary as part of a “Read Aloud” program set up by BSU advisor and West Allis Central High School Reading Specialist Lauren Ulatowski.

“Ultimately, we would like to thank everyone for welcoming and embracing our incredibly talented BSU student presenters, who generously shared their wisdom, knowledge, and pride in their cultural heritage in an engaging and unifying manner,” said Rice. “Special recognition is also in order for all of the building principals, teacher leaders and staff who welcomed our students. And, we are especially grateful for our principal, Mr. Jeff Taylor, who initiated the BHM school visits. 

Overall, it was a tremendous effort made possible by the energy and passion of our students, who are committed to giving back to their community and inspiring us all to learn, grow, and come together in support of each other’s common humanity.