By Pamela Brownstein
Last week, I was privileged to attend St. Helena Elementary School’s Black History program “Our Moment … Our Time: A Celebration of African-American Rhythm, Song and Dance.”
I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I have to confess, since I didn’t grow up here, I don’t have a strong connection to the schools. But every time I visit one I am impressed by the hard working educators and the engaged students — and my trip to St. Helena Elementary was no exception. Actually, I was absolutely amazed by the quality of the performances, the talented students and the spirit of the message.
At the opening, Miss Merriam Browne, the Mistress of Ceremony, reminded the crowd that this is a chance to celebrate history and culture and to show everyone what makes their school great. “We do have something to be proud of at St. Helena,” she said to a room of cheers.
The fourth graders, directed by Miss Hannah Lea, started off on stage with “We Haz Jazz.” Then the school’s Gospel Club took to the stage and three fourth grade singers wowed the audience with their beautiful voices.
The Beaufort High School Umoja Ujima Step Team also gave a special performance. Their dancing and style is truly awesome.
Then the Beaufort High Infamous 843 Drumline stole the show with their rhythm and infectious beats. The younger students loved it, and at one point I looked back and smiled to see the bleachers alive with little dancers.
I thought back to my school days and tried to recall an assembly that was filled with so much interaction and enthusiasm. Our programs seemed sterile in comparison.
The students at St. Helena Elementary have much to be proud of. And they should embrace the closing remarks from Principal Kay Keeler: “This is our moment, let’s claim it.”
Congratulations to the St. Helena Elementary School Black History Month Committee for organizing such a meaningful program, and a personal thank you to media specialist Deborah Martin for letting me be part of it.