Ridgefield students create website celebrating Black History Month

RIDGEFIELD — Last June, the Ridgefield Public Schools community joined the nation in speaking out against racism. Now, a group of students is providing related resources to their peers and family members in the form of a website.

Ridgefield High schoolers Kayla Johansen, Samantha Rodriguez, Cheyla Williams and Marlene Edwards created the website to commemorate Black History Month as part a social studies project. In February, students were encouraged to develop projects that focused on Black history and culture, according to department head Danny Martins.

The website’s home page has a slide show introducing viewers to the site and links to resources about why Black History Month is important, a video from the Department of Defense Education Activity and a PBS Kids video. It also includes tabs that navigate to different topics, including a gallery of 10 historical Black icons, a glossary of important Black terms, such as cultural appropriations and colorism, and a 2020 timeline.

The website also links to a video panel organized by the Branchville Elementary School PTA, “How to Talk to Your Kids about Differences: A Focus on Institutional Racism and Implicit Bias.” The panelists included author Amy Julia Becker; licensed clinical social worker and co-director of the Integrative Counseling & Wellness Group Niro Feliciano; and local child psychologist Dr. Melanie Pearl. They reviewed common questions about racism and how to have healthy conversations surrounding those topics.

Since more than half of the school’s population was not present in the building at the time the projects were on display, the website allowed students to access its resources from home.

“It was aimed at allowing our virtual students to view the important content our students put together for their peers,” Martins said. “The website was posted and sent out to all students through their social studies Google Classrooms at the end of February.

“We are extremely proud of all of their hard work and dedication to the project,” he added.