On February 9, Florida State Fair spectators had the rare treat of seeing all the hard work and effort 27 Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) put forth into their Black History Month tribute display. This exhibit was made possible by the HCPS Office of Diversity, and the dedicated students and teachers who brought their vision to life. Schools spent months learning about those in history who have paved a way for the African American culture, more specifically those on the big screen and stage.
“This has been about six months of preparation where schools researched the African American heroes and celebrities, and their impact in the media, society and film. We are excited to have this specific day where the community and families come together to celebrate the cumulating activities of all the lessons learned,” said Minerva Spanner-Morrow, chief diversity officer.
It was a day packed full of creativity, education and special guest appearances. Cowboy, Gus Trent of Gus Trent Enterprises was the entertaining Master of Ceremonies. Children of all ages enjoyed photo ops with HCPS’ very own Cinderella (Lashawnda Williams) and Stormtrooper (Todd Morrow). Smithsonian Inductee, Greg Crumbly presented Superintendent Eakins and Board Chair, Sally Harris with a portrait of influential African Americans. Kenneth “The Shark” Gant (Former NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) signed autographs for guests, along with Buccaneers’ Safety Keith Tandy. Former WWE Wrestler Michael Tarver also wowed the crowd with photo ops. And American’s Got Talent stars, Kazual, made a special guest appearance and serenaded HCPS school board members before going on stage for their performance.
Families also got a special performance from HCPS' a cappella groups from Plant High School, and Lockhart's drumline. Both performances would put Pitch Perfect stars to shame.
The day also featured Miss Black Florida USA, Nhari Bryant, who encouraged guests to take in all the sights on display inside the Florida Center. She was honored to attend and encouraged everyone to celebrate the African American Culture, and absorb the wealth of information the day had to offer.
“My platform as Miss Black Florida USA is the building of self-esteem and confidence, and Black History Month is the perfect time to celebrate that. In order to have confidence, you must know who you are, your history and culture, and where you come from,” said Bryant.
Those who visited the displays throughout the day also had a chance to turn in their ballot and vote for their favorite piece of work. Winners will be announced in the near future.
To elevate student day at the fair, Casper’s Company presented Lori-Ann James, Senior from Strawberry Crest High School with a $1,000 HCPS McDonald’s Character & Diversity Scholarship. Out of hundreds of nominees, Lori-Ann won the scholarship based on her compassion towards other and her academic excellence. One of her teachers, along with her parents shared stories about Lori-Ann’s generosity, and talked about how she always puts others before herself.
You still have a chance to discover the fun at the Florida State Fair and visit the wonderful African Americans in Film: Influencers of Stage and Screen exhibit from now through February 19.
While you are there, visit the variety of other exhibits displayed by HCPS schools that are inspired by the district’s motto: Preparing Students for Life. Both exhibits are located in the Florida Center building.
Thank you to all of the partners, HCPS employees, teachers, students, schools, and volunteers who played a role in honoring Black History Month at the Florida State Fair.
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