North Hagerstown High School's Black Student Union is hosting its first public event this week, a Black History Bash that organizers say they hope community members will attend to have fun and learn more about Black history.
"Just a fun time, celebrating Black history with our community and the school," said NHHS Black Student Union President Seriane Thiam, 17.
The Bash is from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at North Hagerstown High School, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. Guests can enter the event at the school's front entrance by the parking lot off Pennsylvania Avenue. Admission is free. Snacks like fruit and cookies will be provided at no cost.
North's Black Student Union planned the event, with officers from South Hagerstown High's newly formed Black Student Union helping suggest activities, Seriane said.
Activities planned include Black history trivia, volleyball, cornhole and an Uno tournament.
Media Manager Awa Badjie, 17, said North's Black Student Union, also known as a BSU, conducted a poll through the group's Instagram account to see if there was interest in an assembly or an after-school event to celebrate Black History Month. The result is the bash, which also will include soul food and guest speakers.
"We need a lot more Black History Month events for people to attend" within Washington County Public Schools, Seriane said.
Seriane said she's hoping the event will inspire other Black Student Unions in the school system to host events as well.
Generally with Black History Month, Awa said a lot of the focus ends up being about Black trauma and dark aspects of history.
But Black history is also about celebration and joy, including recognizing people who have made an impact in the community, Awa said.
Newly sworn Hagerstown Mayor Tekesha Martinez, the city's first Black mayor, is expected to be among the guest speakers at Thursday's bash.
Seriane said BSU members are hoping Martinez will perform spoken word.
Washington County Public Schools Superintendent David Sovine and a representative from the Doleman Black Heritage Museum, who will provide an update on the museum's plans, also are expected to attend.
South In Ur Mouth Catering & Baked Goods, owned by NHHS Black Student Union member Maisah Poindexter's mom, Nahtasha Poindexter, will provide soul food meals for $3 each until the food runs out.
Those expecting to attend are asked to RSVP through https://bit.ly/3KcCiOQ so the student union can get a rough count of how many people are attending.
What does the Black Student Union do?
Approximately 25 students regularly attend the Black Student Union's weekly meetings. The membership is culturally diverse.
The group tries to educate its members about Black history, including significant figures beyond the well-known, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, Seriane said.
There are discussions and debates on current and ongoing topics to allow students to express their opinions and hear different perspectives, said Seriane and Awa. Topics include stereotypes, historic events and current political events.
After the Bash, perhaps the BSU could have more community events in the future, Awa said. Many people don't know there is a Black Student Union, she said.
Seriane said she thinks there's a misunderstanding about the Black Student Union. It's for all students, not just Black students. She's hopeful more North High students will attend the group's meetings and events.
The Black Student Union is about "educating everyone about Black history because Black history is important to everyone," Seriane said.
Other Black student groups in WCPS
Washington County Public Schools has other student groups planning Black History events this month, though school system spokeswoman Erin Anderson said the only celebration she was aware of that is public is the one at North High.
Boonsboro High School's Multicultural Diversity and Inclusion Club is hosting a Black History Month celebration featuring local influential people of color, according to an email from Anderson.
Members of Western Heights Middle School's Black Student Union are creating podcasts to share on the school's daily announcement feed to "enlighten" students and staff about unsung Black heroes.
Barbara Ingram School for the Arts' Phantoms of Color Club contributed Black History Month-related graphics, which will be displayed on monitors around the school in February.
Students at the Boyd J. Michael III Technical High School assembled a slide show of famous and/or influential African Americans for each of the school's technical areas. The slideshow is playing in the cafeteria throughout February.
According to the school system's communication office, a Minority Student Alliance group started at the technical high school in Hagerstown's South End this school year.
Smithsburg and Williamsport high schools have Diversity Clubs.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Hagerstown BCU hosting public Black History Month celebration