Monarch Academy Annapolis, a public contract school with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, introduced Black History 365, a student extracurricular club that looks at the Black History 365 textbook presenting an inclusive account of American history, focusing on Black people, groups and cultures. Black History 365 meets virtually at no cost to students and will restart in January.
“Students walked away from the first session learning about ancient Africa along with the great kings and queens that ruled over vast kingdoms and empires,” said Lakisha and Woodly Thelusma, school parents and club organizers. “They were also introduced to many unique African animals, natural resources and the overall beauty of Africa; the enchantment and excitement seen in the eyes of the students communicate just how rich the experience has been for them.”
“Students must know their history,” the Thelusmas continued, “in order to shape their future just as the great Maya Angelou said, ‘You can’t really know where you are going, unless you know where you’ve been.’”
The Thelusmas are adapting the high school-level Black History 365 textbook for kindergarten and first grade students at Monarch Academy Annapolis. The club allows students to expand their cultural awareness, earn badges and advance to higher levels. School districts across the country, including Prince George’s County Public Schools, have adopted the Black History 365 curriculum.
“Monarch Academy Annapolis is so lucky to have Lakisha and Woodly Thelusma leading our Black History 365. They have stepped up to develop and implement an amazing club experience for our youngest learners,” said Kate McFaul, student support and club coordinator at Monarch Academy Annapolis. “We hope the parent partnership on this diversity project can pave the way for future projects that encourage empathy and understanding for diverse cultures.”
In addition, Monarch Academy Annapolis offers other extracurricular activities for students:
- Mighty Milers club will help students stay active and learn health and wellness virtually this year. Monarch Academy Annapolis students join other students from Annapolis schools to participate in the club, led in partnership with Annapolis Recreation and Parks and United States Naval Academy midshipmen.
- MESA (Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement) offers students a chance for the first time this year to participate in a national competition connected to Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Twenty students in third grade—with plans to add students in fourth and fifth grades in the future—will participate in the teacher-led program.
Monarch Academy Annapolis also offers clubs for students interested in music, books, chess and other topics as well.
“At Monarch Annapolis, we strive to provide our students with a wide variety of extracurricular experiences that enrich their thinking and learning, provide the opportunity to meet new friends and extend school beyond our classrooms,” said Rachel Amstutz, principal of Monarch Academy Annapolis. “We are excited to continuously expand our club repertoire and that even in the virtual environment we have been able to create many exciting opportunities. At this point this year, over 160 students are engaging in our clubs, and they are having a blast.”