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6th annual Black History Month Celebration brings local luminaries to the podium at John Cooper School
THE WOODLANDS, TX – Staff, administration, alumni, and students at the John Cooper School in The Woodlands marked Black History Month with its annual observance of the month. On the evening of February 7, the doors to The Rock Math + Science Center opened to welcome attendees to an exhibit of artwork, memorabilia and bits of history, an impressive spread of refreshments, and a series of speakers who informed, entertained, and engaged their audiences.
After the opening remarks by Dr. Stephen Popp, John Cooper’s Head of School, the other speakers took the podium. Memories, anecdotes, stories, and statements were given by Emily Sanni-Thomas (Class of ’33), Adeolu Awe (Class of ’31), Tobi Longe (Class of ’28), Joyce Williams (Class of ’29), Adam Frison (Class of ’23), Sabrina Spraggins (Class of ’23), and Chelsea Wade (Class of ’04). The closing remarks were given by Charles Williams, the Associate Head of School.
Chelsea Wade has been the John Cooper Alumni Board President for the past seven years. The position entails, in her words, “working with a fabulous group of alumni, also celebrating the visibility efforts of the school, some fundraising, being present at events, and being a good voice on behalf of the alumni for the community.”
An African American herself, the importance of the event was evident to Ms. Wade. “It is incredibly important for John Cooper to have this event each year. I’m so glad they started it and I never want to see it end,” she said. “This would have been so meaningful for me if it had been on campus back when I was a student here. It’s just amazing and it is arguably more important now than ever before. I think that the school has progressed so much in a most beautiful way and I think as we continue to build on John Cooper’s legacy it’s vital to have these kinds of events.”
Dr. Popp was thrilled with the large turnout to the event. “We’ve had this interactive exhibit and celebration of Black History Month since 2017. It’s a great partnership with our parents, our faculty, and our students to commemorate the rich history and culture of Black Americans and of African-American history,” he said. “It has been a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together to reflect, to learn, and to celebrate the great legacies given us in years past, and to come together with the experiences that we have and the people we have that make John Cooper so special.”
Dr. Popp was sure to acknowledge and thank some of the many people responsible for the venerable event, including parent volunteers Pepita Boone, Natashia Douglas, and Jennifer Jackson for their leadership with the Black History Exhibit; Robert Douglas, Kevin Jackson, and Dana Slusarenko for assisting with set-up; and the Gardner family and the Brown family for sharing artifacts for the exhibit and reception.
Ms. Wade remarked about some of the preconceived notions that public at large might have about a private school in The Woodlands and wanted to challenge the cliches. “I have to tell you that, in my experience when I was here as a student, if you ran into someone outside of school they would recognize that Cooper uniform and interact with you closely, and it didn’t matter what grade you were in or the color of your skin or your background. And I think that’s a beautiful part of the Cooper community.”
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