Northampton High School celebrates Black History Month with engaging seminars and thought-provoking assemblies

We have been delighted to welcome author Sharna Jackson, MP Valerie Vaz and June-Elizabeth into school virtually to talk with students during this important month

Black History Month gives us a chance to recognise and highlight the accomplishments of Black people throughout the years, and we are delighted to celebrate this time with a host of exciting and informative events throughout the month, including online meetings with key figures in the Black community.

The month kicked off with our annual Black History Month display in the Reception, a thought-provoking exhibit which is the catalyst for healthy debate and discussion. Educational assemblies are also on offer, with the thoughtful and emotive presentations helping to share a wealth of information with pupils, with topics including ‘significant, but not well-known examples of Black History’ and ‘a considerate analysis into the rise of the Black Lives Matter (#BLM)’.

Alongside these events, we have been delighted to welcome dynamic and motivating guests to speak with our community over the course of the month. Taking place over Zoom, students have been joined by both Sharna Jackson and Valerie Vaz MP so far during October, with more guests lined up before the end of half term. Sharna Jackson is an author and artistic director who was awarded ‘The Booksellers Rising Stars’ in 2013 and her impressive book ‘High-Rise Mystery’ is currently nominated for Waterstone’s ‘Children’s Book Prize 2020.’ Sharna spoke eloquently about her desire to become a writer, some of the challenges she had faced and how she formulates successful stories, before hosting a fantastic Q&A with engaged pupils.

Valerie Vaz is currently Member of Parliament for Walsall South, and also undertakes the role of Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. Valerie joined students for a fascinating talk, in which she spoke about her beginnings and some personal challenges, including the sad passing of her father when she was 16, as, in part, an inspiration to her and her brother’s desire to help people. Valerie gave advice about being resilient, determined, and how ‘getting angry’ in a good way, can lead to positive action and change, reflecting on seeing this recently in the Black Lives Matter movement and particularly admiring the younger generation for speaking up about their desires for change.

June-Elizabeth White Gulley is the Northampton-born daughter of Jamaican parents with Irish and Scottish heritage. During her working life June-Elizabeth served as the first Black police officer in Northamptonshire, as well as being a nurse, running a music school for disadvantaged children and later retraining as a health counsellor. June-Elizabeth’s lively presentation explained her passion for celebrating Black History Month through talks and discussion, gave insight into life growing up in Northamptonshire as a child of the Windrush generation and demonstrated to all how she has been able to employ her transferable skills throughout her varied careers.


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