02/25/13 — Looking at their local achievers

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Looking at their local achievers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 25, 2013 1:46 PM

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Crysmann Brandon, 6, a kindergartner at School Street School, joins in a celebration of Black History Month at the school on Friday. Crysmann says he wants to be a fireman when he grows up.

Crysmann Brandon might not be a legend yet, but he's got some big dreams for the future.

"I want to be a fireman and a husband," the 6-year-old said.

On Friday, the kindergartner at School Street Elementary School got to fulfill part of that goal, donning a traditional red and yellow fireman's hat and coat to play a role in a schoolwide assembly to celebrate Black History Month.

The school's theme this year centered around local legends, blacks who have accomplished much in their respective fields.

"We invited several community members to send their pictures in as well as their write-ups," explained Teresa Joyner, parent involvement coordinator at the school. "We put those up for the kids to identify."

Teachers throughout the school also incorporated a variety of lessons on the theme.

"In my class we have done book reports, on the 100th day of school we found 100 African Americans, on the computer and we used books," said Ororo James, a fourth-grader.

Djessen Thermidor, a third-grader whose family moved here from Haiti, said he had enjoyed drawing pictures and presenting a book report, as well as the visit to the school library to check on books on the subject.

"We made a picture of our family," Crysmann said.

Five-year-old Zarae Majoligeser said it was called a "family tree."

"I had my mom in the picture," she said. "I love my mom. I'm on my mom's side."

Veronica Lopez, a pre-K teacher, also incorporated the family tree idea. She sent home poster board and instructions for parents to make a palm tree -- symbolizing peace and triumph and victory, she said -- and to add pictures representing four generations of the family.

"The big thing is the family thing," she said. "They were all so excited because these are things they had to do together as a family, looking for the pictures, learning about the family. Even in the single-parent homes, they could learn about the other side."

Students admitted they have learned a lot in their respective classes this month.

"I learned that African-Americans are heroes and I learned that Colin Powell was a hero," Djessen said.

"We learned about the African-Americans who gave us freedom," said Chanselor Frontanez, a third-grader.

All the lessons culminated with the annual celebration assembly, which is often a well-guarded secret, except for the participants, said Ms. Joyner.

In addition to select students singing in the program, it featured four motivational speakers -- Master Sgt. Tasha Carroway from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base; Carol Artis, principal at North Drive Elementary School; Larry Johnson, an administrator at Wayne Community College; and Nile Harvey, a former SSE student who is now a sixth-grader at Wayne School of Engineering.

"They each get three to five minutes of power punches to direct our students to be local legends as well," Ms. Joyner said.

Several said they have already given thought to what they would like to do when they grow up.

"I was thinking of being a doctor," Djessen said.

"I want to be a person who helps people that don't have enough food and people that are homeless and don't have the stuff that I have," said Nyila Williams, a fourth-grader.

"I want to be a nurse," said Ororo, noting that her mother is in the process of pursuing that career field as well.

"I want to be a lady that's a police and I want to help people when robbers are around and help them," Zarae said.

Chanselor shared a similar goal, explaining that as a police officer he can "help people and like when bad people are around, when someone tries to rob a house or a store, I will be there and take the robber to jail."

The potential for becoming a legend starts early, Ms. Joyner said.

And these boys and girls said they have some idea of what qualities it will take to accomplish that.

"You have to be caring for somebody," Ororo said.

"You have to have courage," Djessen said.

"That if you try, you can make a difference," Ororo added.

"You can still do it, even if somebody says you're not good at it," Djessen said.