Black History Month Gala – Celebrate Black Excellence

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Lauren Walters, Copy & Photo Editor

On Friday, February 3rd, West Orange High School hosted the Black History Month Gala. The event acted as a fundraiser for Black History Scholarships, as well as a way for the town to come together to celebrate black history month. 

 

The gala was the result of the collaborative efforts of the Jubilee choir, step teams, and student council. Student council Vice President, Lucy Edwards and Public Relations officer, Ariyana Rajani spoke of the behind the scenes efforts. “It was so fun, it was so chaotic but it was really amazing and I think it resulted in a really amazing event,” shares Rajani. 

Edwards chimed in, adding, “I liked getting different perspectives on what people wanted to see, I feel like it really helped the program come together.”

 

This year, the gala’s theme was “Black excellence.” This theme was carried throughout every aspect of the night, with student performances highlighting black talent. When asked about what this theme means to her, WOHS senior and member of the Optimal Precision step team, Breylen Tyson shared “Black excellence means to me that you’re reaching your highest potential as a black individual. You’re taking advantage of every opportunity, you’re being your very best self–you’re very black self. Being black is beautiful and it’s strong and black excellence is embodying and celebrating all of that.”

 

This notion was reflected in both the girls’ and boys’ step teams performances, which both highlighted black contributions to dance and music. The girls’ team, Optimal Precision, taught the audience about the roots of step and what it means to the black community, while the boys’ team, ABsolute, mentioned black contributions to the core music genres. 

 

Another notable performance was that of the Elixar dance crew. The group, which is made up of students from West Orange High School, danced to songs sung by black artists in group performances as well as solos. “We world on our performances so that they would be classics that were really important to the black community and then of course Beyonce because… it’s Beyonce she’s always empowering” says Elixar member, sophomore Nyah Mckinney. “We really wanted to show that there’s different ways to bring the community together and dance is such an important part to the community.”

 

The event’s audience was made up of students, faculty, and families from West Orange. 

“I think West Orange being a very diverse town makes it really important to highlight achievements of those within the community,” says Edwards. From the soul food being served to uplifting performances, there was something for everyone to enjoy. “There’s just so many cultural aspects that I think really bring us all together and I love that,” says McKinney.

 

The Jubilee choir was a driving force of the night, singing multiple pieces throughout the event that warranted enthusiastic crowd reactions. Performing, “Lean on Me,” “Total Praise,” “Unity,” and “Ride On,” the choir conveyed the power and emotion behind these songs originally performed by black artists. 

 

To end off the night, Jubilee thanked their advisors, Mrs. Michelle Brown and Dr. William Farley for all of their efforts and guidance.

 

In his closing speech, Farley thanked the community for supporting the scholarship fund and made a special acknowledgement to his colleague Mrs. Brown, as current and former students alike showed their love from the audience, cheering for their adored teacher.

 

From the food, to the performances, to the heartfelt messages conveyed throughout the event, this year’s gala was truly a representation of black excellence in West Orange.