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Reflecting on Black History Month in the Mount Vernon City School District

Reflecting on Black History Month in the Mount Vernon City School District

The Mount Vernon City School District celebrated Black History Month with enthusiasm and reflected on its cultural significance. Throughout the month, students learned about important figures in history, the accomplishments throughout Black history and why it is so important today. As Black History Month ends, remember to continuously recognize and celebrate the impact that Black people have made on the world throughout history.  

Read more about what students, staff and administrators said about what Black History Month means to them here. To hear more about what Black History Month means to the Mount Vernon City School District, view the video below.

Acting Superintendent Dr. K. Veronica Smith: “What does Black History Month mean to me? It means celebration. We stand on the shoulders of our forefathers. They worked hard for us to get where we are today. While we have a long way to go, I know that here in the Mount Vernon City School District we’re working hard so our students can also do great things. We’re working so they can read and write. We want them to be able to become doctors and lawyers. When we think of Black History Month, we think of the people that paved the way.” 

School Board President Lorna Kirwan: “Black History Month is very significant. It provides the opportunity to recognize and honor the many contributions that African Americans have made to society in various fields like the arts, literature, science, technology, and, you can’t forget, civil rights. Black History month serves as a platform for educating people about the often-overlooked history of African Americans.” 

Cecil H. Parker School Counselor Nikia Jones: “Black History Month means to me a celebration to honor all of our ancestors and their contributions. More importantly, this month reminds me of the beauty of being Black and the diversity of our history and our culture.” 

Pennington School eighth-grade student Dylan Ruffin: “Black History to me is a time where we get to celebrate Black people’s accomplishments. A lot of people focus Black History Month on the negative side like slavery, but we should focus on the achievements, so that’s what Black History Month means to me.” 

Mount Vernon Honor Academy Social Studies Teacher Tawana Youngblood: “People from all over different aspects of society – musicians, doctors, lawyers – have all been great contributors to African American history, and we appreciate their accomplishments during this month.” 

Pennington School Computer Technology Teacher Pedro Nicolas Payano: “As someone who is Latino who has African descent in me, it is important that we actually do a reflection of where we come from.” 

Traphagen School seventh-grade student Jade Whitaker: “Black history month is a month where we learn to appreciate everyone’s culture, especially African Americans. We learn about what African Americans went through and what they still go through today.” 

Traphagen School seventh-grade student Amir Willins: “For me, it’s a time for people of the African American ethnicity to celebrate.” 

Cecil H. Parker School seventh-grade student Treszure Stewart: “What Black History Month means to me is basically representing our culture and what we have learned in our past lives to help us learn today.” 

Pennington School Principal Dr. Melissa White: “Black History Month means to me a celebration of my culture and students who are in our building, and a celebration of our history and how far we have come and accelerated in life and in this world.” 

Pennington eighth-grade student Dylan Avelino: “Black History Month is a month that we look at the people who contributed to America and what they did for us – their inventions and their contributions to American History.” 

Edward Williams School First Grade Teacher Lori Gill-Drayton: “Black History month to me means freedom, perseverance, spirituality, hope and education.” 

Cecil H. Parker School Principal Jacqueline Green: “Black History to me means representing and celebrating the contributions of African Americans in this country in the past and in the future. It’s important to know that this country is built on what we have contributed.” 

Lincoln School seventh-grade student Malcolm Nembhard: “Black History Month means to me Black power and also Black people taking a stand against racism. We fought and sacrificed so much for the rights we all want and need.” 

Mount Vernon Honor Academy eighth grade-student Rickayla McCalla: “Black History Month is the month that we can celebrate all the contributions that Black people have made to America.”  

Lincoln School Teaching Assistant Marie Ferguson: “Black history is American history. What that means to me as a Black woman is power.” 

Mount Vernon STEAM Academy ninth-grade student Alistair Bell: “Black history is very important to me because for all of history, people have fought for rights, and that should be reflected in today’s society.” 

Mount Vernon Honor Academy Principal Danielle Davis-Marrow: “Black History Month is a time to recognize Black excellence. It is an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of Black Americans and their essential contributions to all aspects of American life.” 

Traphagen School First Grade Teacher Lauren Petrillo: “Black History Month means teaching all of my students about people in history that have broken down lots of barriers and led the way for our future and the future of my students.” 

Cecil H. Parker School Head Custodian Anthony Adams: “Black History Month to me is about the progress we as African Americans have made and will continue to make. It is also American history.” 

Lincoln School eighth-grade student Nevaeh Goodyear: “I think Black History Month shows the opportunity to recognize Black people’s resilience, innovation and courage.” 

Mount Vernon STEAM Academy Principal Dr. Christopher Pearce: “Black History Month is very important to our community because it recognizes the struggles that our ancestors went through. It also recognizes the contributions that African Americans have made to society.” 

Cecil H. Parker School seventh-grade student Kenny Senol: “Black History Month to me is a month where we celebrate all different types of legends of Black African American people.” 

Mount Vernon Honor Academy seventh-grade student Aadyn Fulcher: “Black History Month is a month where we can celebrate all the past people who have made great contributions to Black people, like Martin Luther King Jr.” 

Lincoln School Principal Rebecca Jones: “Black History Month is an opportunity for us to recognize the countless contributions of Black people both in this country and throughout the world. It is a moment for us to pause and reflect on the struggles of the past, the benefits and the beauty of our present and the hope of the future. The fight continues for equal justice for all.” 



Danielle Browne

Danielle R. Browne, Esq., founding attorney of the Browne Firm PLLC and city councilperson for the City of Mount Vernon, graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 2006. She attended Barnard College, Columbia University, where she was the captain of the women’s basketball team, and received her law degree from the University of Miami School of Law. Since then, she has started her own law firm and made her impact on her hometown as a city councilperson.

Dr. Smith receiving proclamation.

Acting Superintendent Dr. K. Veronica Smith received a proclamation from New York State Senator Jamal Bailey, recognizing her for her exemplary service to the community and the State of New York for Women’s History Month on Friday, April 5, 2024. Nakia Hiland, director of Safe Place for Our Girls, from the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau and Unique Groom, community liaison for Jamal Bailey presented the proclamation to Dr. Smith.  

Logo for news post

Dr. K. Veronica Smith, Acting Superintendent of Schools: 

Greetings MVCSD Community,

At approximately 10:23 a.m., there was a 4.8 magnitude earthquake in New Jersey. The aftershocks were felt throughout the Tri-State area. Several of our school buildings felt the tremors, which lasted for less than 30 seconds.

There have been no reports of staff or student injuries due to this incident. As a precaution, we will have indoor activities for our students for the remainder of the day. We will keep you updated on any developments on this matter if necessary.

Students strapping instructor onto board

Mount Vernon City School District students, equipped with medical supplies, administered care to mannequins during their emergency medical technician (EMT) training course at Mount Vernon High School on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department added a new EMT program earlier in the school year, and classes began in December. 

Dr. Waterman Superintendent for a Day

A new, but familiar, face occupied the Mount Vernon City School District superintendent’s desk on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. Dr. Crystal Waterman, Edward Williams School principal, served as the superintendent for the day to begin Acting Superintendent Dr. K. Veronica Smith’s “Superintendent for a Day,” series. Dr. Smith served as the principal at Edward Williams.