Niles West Celebrates Black History Month


The Black History Month calendar filled with activities to celebrate African Americans in the community.

By Leila Meseljevic, Staff Writer

Feb. 1 is the start of Black History Month (BHM). Over the years, students and teachers at Niles West High School have contributed to the celebrations by inviting special speakers and hosting activities. Here’s an overview of the upcoming events:

  • Every Wednesday of February, Black-owned businesses such as Mrs. Kays Kitchen, Noir d’Ebene Chocolat et Patisserie, Mango Moi and Kesia King will be showcased and available for students to support
  • 2/3 – Niles West Library Research Guide for Black Lives Matter
  • Every Friday of February, there is Trivia during Homeroom. On 2/10, Trivia Winners will be announced
  • 2/7 – BSU Concession Stand During Lunches
  • 2/8 – Tote Bags in the Library
  • 2/11 – Blizzard sold during lunches
  • 2/14  – Spirit Week Dress up Day: Represent your Country
  • 2/15 – Spirit Week Dress up Day: Historically Black College Day

 Londyn LaVallias, the President of Black Student Union (BSU), explained what Niles West has been doing to play a part during Black History Month.

“This year we weren’t able to have our traditional assembly due to COVID, so instead we have created a calendar for BHM.  Our theme for this year BHM is black excellence. We have created a calendar filled with fun activities, spirit week and a chance for students and staff to know more about Black excellence and Black history.  There have been many staff administrators and teachers who have contributed their time to help BSU with BHM,” LaVallias said.

Omar Alebiosu, the Physical Education Director, was able to give an in-depth view of the calendar for Black History Month.

“The Black History Month calendar is dedicated to something specific about black culture. It is for teachers to utilize the calendar, and tell their students about it. For example, one day is a craft day, trivia day, coordination with the library to provide some books with black authors, and a black owned business every Wednesday to come and talk to students. Other days have a black mental health night, offering mindfulness practice, instruction for fitness, a movie night located in the student commerce, and etc. There are theme days, and one for example, is representing your country day. Each day is detailed with something different. Not just one day, but a multitude of days to celebrate Black History. Anyone is free to participate, but the whole idea is to bring awareness to Black History. Black history should not be once a month, not even a day, but 365 days,” Alebiosu said.

“Mr. Alebiosu really stepped up to help us as a club and Mrs. Katie Odell. BSU has an amazing team of leaders who helped out tremendously. BSU has a really good support system here at Niles West. I’m glad to be a part of BSU and working with wonderful leaders. Black History Month is a very important month which we hope to showcase black excellence throughout the whole year, not just BHM,” LaVallias said.

Black History Month exists to celebrate and appreciate the accomplishments of African Americans. Because of COVID-19, it is difficult to gather students and teachers together to shine light on said achievements.  Nonetheless, Carl Alexander wanted to share his experience throughout the time he has been here at West.

From the five years, I have been at Niles West, I have watched the Black Student Union in collaboration with the Fine & Applied Arts department yield some incredibly impactful programming and events to celebrate Black History Month…Last year, the Black Teen Summit was offered as an enrichment experience for Black Teens throughout the district to dig deep into their racial identity as well as uplift the dreams of their community. This space also lets students and staff brainstorm ways to support each other through specific struggles of being Black in Skokie,” Alexander said.

  • 2/17 – Spirit Week Dress up Day: All Black Everything Day
  • 2/17 – Support a Black-owned and Niles West Alum business: shop3keys
  • 2/18 – Black Excellence Shirt Sold during Lunches
  • 2/21 – Kesia King Night over Zoom
  • 2/22 – After School Mixer with Fitness by Mr. Gideon Akande
  • 2/24 – Movie Night in the Student Commons after School
  • 2/28 – Black History Month Student Art Collage Revealed

“I look forward to the new ways we may celebrate and engage with Black History Month this year. I hope that more teachers will acknowledge the impact that Black bodies and brains have on their content areas and find creative ways to broaden their students’ horizons by sharing those names and experiences in class. The more we do this, we all realize that Black history isn’t just regulated to a month, but is made every day,” Alexander said.