Coming up with fresh ideas to help celebrate Black History Month is not the easiest of chores, but when you focus on using this special month to promote school engagement, these digital communication gems can keep your school-community connection strong. BHM is a perfect time to set some goals using digital communications, so I’ve listed my top five for engaging your school community online.
1. Stream a BHM-themed community forum
Many superintendents and school boards host virtual community forums or online chats, so why not create one with a Black History Month theme or tie-in. Using Zoom, Youtube, Facebook live or some other online meeting platform, you can have have school leadership board members, counselors and others host a roundtable.
People are turning to online streaming for good, meaningful and informative content. They should be learning more about their school district’s commitment to diversity and equity.
TIPS: Be sure to pick a smooth and capable moderator, and promote your live streaming event well in advance through your social media and website alerts.
Glendale (CA) Unified School District is one district that hosts an online community forum featuring a virtual speaker series panel.
2. Virtual art gallery all-grades
What better way to bring Black History Month home than to depict it through the eyes of one of your students?
In Hillsborough County (Tampa) Florida, Harmoni WIlson of Walker Middle Magnet School created a beautiful art project that school officials are now displaying and promoting on the district homepage. She created the 23 pieces in her exhibit using Google Drawings.
Regardless of the medium – it can be photos, illustrations, animations, paintings, music, or any art project from one of your students – a virtual art gallery is easy to create and publish to your website and social media channels.
In honor of the time-tested axiom, a picture is worth a thousand words, I offer this absolute gem of a BHM art gallery.
Visual art gallery created by Hillsborough County Public Schools middle school student Harmoni Wilson.
3. Web-based writing contest
Give students until Feb. 28 to submit an entry for a writing (or some other form of self-expression) contest that students can participate in based on a BHM theme. Set up multiple categories by age (1. Elementary, 2. Middle school, 3. High school.); and by format: (e.g., essay, poetry, journalistic, creative, music lyric).
Everyone gets a certificate, top judged entries get mega recognition in the school newsletter.
TIP: Did you know you can add attachments to Google forms? Use Google Forms to not only create a form for submitting entries, but gather the actual writings.
4. Daily social media posts about African-American facts
Your school’s social media channels are perfect for engaging students, staff, parents and your entire school community during Black History Month. And here’s where your teachers and students can help you generate the content.
Besides the usual Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks fare, challenge your faculty to come up with BHM facts, profiles, and post them daily. Localize your content too if possible by sharing some community history.
TIPS: Create a cool template that integrates with your school branding. Use a social media manager to schedule your posts ahead of time when you can, and try to have something on FB, Twitter and Instagram every school day.
David Douglas Public School District (Portland), does a fantastic job using social media to promote engagement during Black History Month
5. Virtual HBCU college fair
If high school is all about preparing the students for what lies ahead, what better way to merge history with the promise of higher education than with an online college fair featuring Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Nearby local and regional HBCUs would jump at the chance to participate in an online fair. With a little help from the colleges’ admissions department, your students can meet up with HBCU alumni or current students to learn about the school, scholarships and assist with post-high school college preparation. The UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is also another resource to add to your fair. You can even extend the scope by including local community college and trade institutions too.
Here’s a list of HBCUs, and another great resource for setting up an HBCU college fair.
For more ideas on how to increase school engagement during Black History Month, check out the resources on the We Are Teachers website.
Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at email@example.com.