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Students celebrate black history

February 24, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

"I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike."
-- Maya Angelou

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Destructive vandalism a few weeks ago at the Boys & Girls Club in Martinsburg didn't derail the organization's creative arts program Tuesday evening at Martinsburg High School to celebrate Black History Month.

About 25 children took part in the "I Have a Dream Night" program held in partnership with the high school's Multicultural Club, which held a fundraiser for the organization.

"The Multicultural Club gets the accolades for the performances," said Stacie Rohn, the Martinsburg-Berkeley County unit director for the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle.

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Rohn told a small crowd gathered in the high school's auditorium that the few logistical glitches leading up to Tuesday evening's program didn't compare to what has been a "trying and stressful month."

Several young students presented short narratives about famous black Americans, including Walter S. McAfee, who calculated the speed of the moon, and George Washington Carver, a 19th-century scientist recognized for his agricultural research.

Club members Amber Toth, Aaron Underwood, Becca Rohn and Corey Miller each read a portion of the speech that Martin Luther King Jr. gave in August 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Members of the Boys & Girls Club choir performed "Wade in the Water, Swing Low Sweet Chariot."

Their solo-filled performance was followed by one from a dance troupe and a reading of the poem "Human Family" by Maya Angelou.

Seventeen-year-old Precious Carter's passionate reading of the poem stirred the loudest applause of the evening. A photography exhibit by club members and a social studies fair project about the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of black pilots who served in World War II, also were on display.

Rohn credited members of the Multicultural Club for coming to the organization's West John Street facility and working with club members to make the program possible.

After vandals struck at the beginning of the month, volunteers, parents and others came together to clean up and reopen the club, which was in disarray, Rohn said.

Every fire extinguisher was emptied, chemicals were dumped and the club's fish eventually died from being poisoned, Rohn said.

Shyla Ashan, president of the Multicultural Club, encouraged those gathered Tuesday to make a donation to the Boys & Girls Club.

"This place is just a warm place for all of us," Ashan said.

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