Hidden Valley High School’s impactful Black History Month project draws community participation

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Roanoke, Va. (WFXR) — Every year, Hidden Valley High school Educator and Sponsor of the History Club, Shelley Winterer is responsible for coming up with ways to celebrate Black History Month. This year’s project turned into something much bigger than anticipated!

Hidden Valley High School is educating students about Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as the Divine Nine. Winterer says the idea for the project came about with the recent election of Vice President, Kamala Harris.

“There’s been so much talk about her educational background and the pride that she has from coming from an HBCU and being a part of the Divine Nine. I thought this would be a really great opportunity to take that national conversation and bring it into our school to help our students learn more about what these institutions are, and who is coming out of them, and look at these great things that these people are going on to do.”

Shelley Winterer, Social Studies Teacher, Sponsor of the History Club and National History Scholars Society

In a group effort, Winterer worked with Principal Lori Wimbush, colleague Kimberly Irvin as well as others to connect with local members of the community who were a part of a historically black college or university or the Divine Nine, historically black greek letter organizations.

They put out a website called Flipgrid where people could send in video clips about what it meant to them to be a part of an HBCU, a Divine Nine organization, or both.

“Before we knew it our Flipgrid account was filling up with all of these great testimonials. Then it became something like, ‘well we have so many people, we can’t cut any of these. They’re all fantastic!’ We have all of these stories, we have the Mayor, we have videos from people, graduates from HBCUs, or a part of the Divine Nine who have gone on to do really big things.”

Kimberly Irvin, Special Education Teacher, Hidden Valley High School

Now, students have access to nearly an hour of personal HBCU and Divine Nine experiences on various screens throughout their high school hallways. Principal Lori Wimbush, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, says it has been inspiring.

“Once we got those testimonials back, I mean I was literally in tears when Mrs. Winterer and Mrs. Irvin came to me with the final project put together… and just hearing the stories of so many influential people in our communities and the impact an HBCU or the Divine Nine had on them. It was actually amazing to see.”

Lori Wimbush, Principal of Hidden Valley High School

Even more moving is educating youth on what started as the only option for Black Americans to what has become a choice of pride and a great option for pursuing higher education.

“They were able to do all these great things and I got to learn more about them, and what their passions were, and what like motivated them. I just thought that was really great to be able to learn that,  even pass that along to other people, the knowledge that I’ve learned.”

Leah Tillman, Hidden Valley High School, 10th grade

“It feels good to be educated on some of the stuff that I never would have even thought about had Hidden Valley not brought it up. The thing that I learned was definitely that Black Americans didn’t always have it easy. They had to push through and persevere to get where they are and the accomplishments that they have made. I just found that really interesting and it’s definitely shaped how society is today.”

Ann Marie, Hidden Valley High School, 10th grade

At Hidden Valley High School, they’re bringing to light the opportunities beyond high school through education and community collaboration.

Want to see the full fifty minute Black History Month video? Click here!

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