Briarcliff Middle School Students Take a Stand

What is the story of a Briarcliff student? And why do stories matter?

Eight graders in Maggie White’s “Storytelling for Change” enrichment class at Briarcliff Middle School explore these questions, along with a range of examples of storytelling from podcasts to Ted Talks to Author’s Notes to poetry, and ultimately choose the best format to tell their own story.

Recently, in honor of Black History Month, students explored the question “Why is the story of Black History month an important story to tell?”

Students learned about Shirley Chisholm, first Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress in 1968 and the first Black person to run for president in a major party’s primary in 1972. Ms. Chisholm was known for saying “if they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

Students embarked on a special interdisciplinary art installation, currently on display at the school cafeteria, in response to the prompt: When you have a seat at the table, what will you stand for?

“Through their exploration, students designed seat cushions made of paper, representing issues they feel passionate about, as inspired by Shirley Chisholm’s conviction and passion,” Ms. White said.

Students researched issues that they care about as a way of honoring Black History Month in February and Women’s history Month in March.

“I collaborated with art teacher Jessica Dubin to support students with the art component of this project,” Ms. White said. “Ms. Dubin shared the importance of utilizing white space, paying attention to message and lettering, and using multimedia to add depth. She also gave her time, materials and space to help me and the students as they worked on this project.”

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