WEST ORANGE, NJ – On Feb. 26, Hazel Elementary School held its first-ever Black History Month event, drawing nearly 400 people from the Hazel and West Orange communities. It featured performances by students and parents. Musical performances by parents Mr. Gustavson, Mr. Minervino, Mrs. Galdamez, and Mr. Eder were highlights of the evening

To start off the event, Hazel Principal Dr. Ed Acevedo offered a special thank you to staff: Mrs. Feinman, Mrs. Scalia, Ms. Zavar, Ms. Rivera and Mrs. Popple for their support and assistance.  

According to a school representative, “Students in grades three to five including Makiyah Green (4W), Isaiah Gordon (5I) and Emily Morocho (5P) eloquently delivered powerful poems that moved the audience and underscored the diversity of the Hazel community.”

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Acevedo credited Hazel teachers with the work they do to teach and inspire students, noting, “We should all learn an important lesson from this. Teachers should not underestimate when their gifts of love, patience and perseverance will forever change the life of a child.” 

In addition to musical, dance, and poetry performances, second graders presented a “Wax Museum” featuring famous African Americans brought to life by students, who gave speeches dressed in costume, and utilized posters and props to convey the historic contributions of their chosen person.  

Board member Sandra Mordecai said, "The program was really great. It was both a history lesson and entertainment. We were proud of the students as they read portions of essays they wrote on African Americans who contributed to the Civil Rights Movement including Rosa Parks. We were also treated to great music across African cultures including Blues, Jazz, Hip Hop, Reggae, Afro Cuban music and Capoeira, which is a Brazilian dance with karate movements. A great time was had by all."  

In addition to this event, other events happened at the school. The Ujoma Dance Company visited second graders and Rutgers University Music Historian Bob Ramos also paid a visit to students in grades three to five. Ramos encouraged students to join him in performing West African rhythms during a hands-on drumming workshop. Students utilized Kenyan instruments like the Kora and the talking drum, illustrating African American polyrhythm, repetition, call, response, and syncopation.