Recently, more than 60 members of the Pingry community, from all three divisions, gathered on Zoom for the school's first-ever HBCU alumni panel. Six Pingry graduates shared their experiences—here's what they had to say.
Poetry, dancing, visual art, food, fashion . . . for Pingry's celebration of Black History Month, Middle and Upper School students were treated to a video that explores and celebrates many aspects of Black culture. The theme: We Are Pingry, Too: Black Strength, Beauty, and Success Through Time.*
Notably, the video is not just an overview of Black culture and history—it also represents the Black community at Pingry. In various segments, the video presents photos of Black students, faculty, and staff; students dancing to "Formation" by Beyoncé; reflections on what Blackness means to members of the community; and dishes cooked and judged by students ("Is it smackin' or lackin'?"). The video also shares reflections on the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses (from business owners who have personal connections to members of the community); a profile of Black painter Titus Kaphar; students modeling Black fashion over the decades; a history of Black hair; and some thoughts to complete the sentence, "When I see Black, I see . . ."
"We asked the students how they wanted to be celebrated this year," says Bria Barnes, Middle School English Teacher and Middle School Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. "We asked them what they wanted the larger community to know about their varied experiences, many different cultures, and more . . . This year's theme is a clear message that building community and a clear sense of belonging for all students is essential here at Pingry."
Also, on the Basking Ridge Campus, the C. B. Newton Library displayed photos submitted by Black families in all three divisions of the Pingry community.
At the Lower School, the curriculum for each grade was enhanced with lessons, projects, and readings for Black History Month. These included the "I am unique" project to talk about skin color (K); the importance of having a voice (1); Black History books during workshops and social studies (2); Freedom Quilts (3); Amanda Gorman's poem "The Hill We Climb" from the Presidential Inauguration (4 and 5); the contributions of Black musicians (Music); the identity and interests of African American scientists and engineers beyond white coats and science labs (Science); African American ballet dancer Misty Copeland (K-2 Drama); and a bird unit about African American author and ornithologist Dr. J. Drew Lanham (Kindergarten Science and Art collaboration). Plus, parents participated in virtual readings for the African American Read-In, which the Lower School Library hosted as part of the National African American Read-In. The goal of the event is to make literature a significant part of Black History Month and to celebrate the works of African American authors.
Bria Barnes, Middle School English Teacher and Middle School Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Camille Bonds, Digital Communications Specialist
Melody Boone, Middle and Upper School Visual Arts Teacher
Alexa López, Upper School Spanish Teacher and Upper School Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Taunita Stephenson, Associate Athletics Director; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator for Athletics
Pictured: In the C. B. Newton Library on the Basking Ridge Campus, a display of photos of Black families in the Pingry community
Contact: Greg Waxberg '96, Communications Writer, Editor of The Pingry Review