Back To School Again

Back To School Again


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



 High poverty in this community and the lack of parental involvement, it becomes paramount

that the educators at my school focus strongly on Character Education along with the academics




Back To School Again

A Door to the Future from the Struggles of the Past


Students in pre-kindergarten through graduate level returned to school in late August or early September. Many students and parents start each school year with hopes and dreams. The African-American student is often faced with many obstacles to a quality education. Many of the things that impede this quality education that our children are entitled to are not of their making.

While we cannot change the pain and suffering of our past, we can each do our part to make a brighter future for our children. We can no longer afford to allow conditions of poverty, drugs, and racism to shut the door on our children’s future.

We at ChickenBones: A Journal wish that each student is able to reach his fullest potential and receive the quality education that he or she is entitled to under the law. We must all do our part. If our children fail, then we as a people will fail to exist. Regardless of the past, we must reach towards the future.

We asked several students, parents, teachers, and administrators about their goals for this 2003-2004 school year. Their responses:  

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Derian (Age 5): 

“I am in Kindergarten. I like my teacher. I want to learn to read more and count. I can write my name and some words. I want to be really smart.”

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Lyric (Age 8): 

“I want to be a better reader and writer. I like to read lots of books. I want to pass to 4th grade.”


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Troy: (Age 10) “I am in a new school. My school Halstead Academy teaches us a lot about science and art. I love to read mystery books. I want to pass to 6th grade.”


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Derek: (Age 13):

“I am in the 7th grade. I have a lot of classes. My goal is to try to keep up with all my work and be more organized. I like to read and do math. I am really good at math and playing football.”

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Andrea: I am in 10th grade. I need to get out of 10th grade. I am having problems with geometry. My goal is to pass all of my classes. I don’t want to go to summer school again.

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Mr. And Mrs. Brantley (Parents):

“We are happy with the schools our boys are in this year. We want both of them to do really well. We want them to perform to the best of their abilities. We want for them both to be well rounded boys who add something positive to this world. We have taught them Christian principles. We want them to be good people.”


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Kara Scott: (New Teacher) ” I want to learn all that is required of me so that I can be the best teacher possible. I want to be able to help each child grow academically and as a person. This is a learning year for me . I am teaching 7th grade. Wish me luck.”


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Kiwana Terry (Second Year Teacher):

“I am so excited this year. In my first year, I had so much to learn. This year I will continue to learn, but I feel more confident.  I want each child to excel at a high level. I will challenge each child to do his very best. I look forward to a good school year.”


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Merlyn Bell (Thirty-Year Teacher):

 “This year I will serve as the coordinator for 100 Book Challenge. It is a program which challenges students to read a 100 books or more. I want each child to read as many books as possible. I also want to help with strategies to meet the individual needs of the students.”


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Rita Jeffers (Principal) “One goal that I have for my students is to increase their self esteem. High achievement and feeling positive about ones’ self are connected. Due to the high poverty in this community and the lack of parental involvement, it becomes paramount that the educators at my school along focus strongly on Character Education along with the academics.”

*   *   *   *   *


Yvonne Terry (Assistant principal):

“My personal goal is that every child achieve in all areas. We focus heavily on reading, writing and mathematics, but I want to see students’ multiple talents and skills realized and recognized. I am proud of the gifted students at Waverly Elementary Middle School. Each child has great potential within him or her. I want to see each stretch the door of opportunity wide open.”

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Building Early Reading Skills 

Through Experiences with Rhythm Instruments

By Barbara Alexander


Children are naturally drawn to music, rhythm, and movement. Using rhythm instruments and children’s natural inclination to music, teachers can foster young learners’ critical reading skills that meet the guidelines of Reading First while teaching important musical concepts.


1. Identifying Syllables Game: The Leader of the Band

Before starting a session with instruments, have children introduce themselves by tapping the syllables in their name, as in Lin-da (two taps). The class will respond by copying the taps and then repeating “Lin-da is the leader of the band.” Go around the room until everyone has had a turn.

2. Identifying Oral Rhymes

Do a shared reading of a familiar poem or nursery rhyme. After the first reading, ask children to play their instruments as you read rhyming words from the text. Instruct them to stop playing when they hear a word that does not rhyme. From the rhyme “To Market, To Market” you might read: pig, jig, wig, dig, hog. Children should stop playing when they hear the word hog. Afterwards, for fun, read the rhyme and let children play to rhythm of the text. Another fun book to accompany with music is “Miss Mary Mack” (Scholastic).

3. Phonemic Awareness

Have children sit in a circle. Hold up a picture word card (e.g., cat). Say the sound for each phoneme /c/ /a/, /t/. Ask children to clap out the sounds they hear and chant the word. Call on one child to tap her instrument the number of claps heard (the child should beat tap-tap tap for the word cat). Ask the other children to copy the beat. Do this several times with the whole group using vocabulary from recently read books or other printed materials in the room (e.g. ant, bird, farm). As an extension, put a basket of word cards in the listening center along with a percussion instrument for children to work with in pairs. One child reads the word, the other child taps out the sounds heard.

4. Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension

Read City Storm (Wright Group Publishing) or any other book that has a good amount of onomatopoeia. Children can dramatize the sounds by using their instruments to make sound effects. Children may be as creative as they like in representing the sounds. They will enjoy making sounds for words like tap, swish, whoo, flash, boom, thump, and splash. Before asking children to play the sounds, be sure to discuss each word to make sure children understand its meaning in the context of the story. Instruments that would work well with this activity are drums, maracas, rhythm sticks, and xylophone. In this activity, children will be able to support the fluent reading of a story and learn how onomatopoeia is used in literature.

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I want to be a better reader and writer. I like to read lots of books.

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Sister Grief: Defined and Conquered in Jesus

By Yvonne Terry-Lewis

“Sister Grief: Defined and Conquered in Jesus” is an engaging book that confronts the universal experience of living with death and dying. The author personifies the personal loss of loved ones as “Sister Grief.” The book, partly autobiographical, provides a holistic plan for conquering grief through faith, through a special relationship with Jesus. This plan is designed to help navigate one through the grieving process. The book includes personal stories, poetry, testimonials, letters, practical suggestions, and strategies based on a love for the divinity in one’s life. Although the circumstances that cause grief may be sad, this book is filled with love, encouragement, and hope that lead one towards spiritual health and wholeness.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update March 2010



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