PHOTO STORY: NHS decorates classroom doors for Black History Month

Published 8:44 am Tuesday, March 3, 2020

NILES — While Black History Month’s last day was Saturday, Niles High School’s celebration of it is in full swing.

Students, teachers and staff decorated classroom doors with decorative displays paying homage to black Americans.

This is the second year in a row the school has hosted the event, although counselor Carrie Rinehart said such an event has occurred further in Niles’ past.

A group of community members will soon come in to judge the doors. The creators of the best door will receive a prize in food. Rinehart said that while food makes for a good incentive, but that is hardly the point.

“These are also people that gave back and are a great celebration of a heritage that doesn’t often get focused on,” she said.

Many students and teachers stuck with this year’s theme, inventors, when researching and decorating.

The agriculture classroom’s door was for Henry Blair, the 18th-century inventor of a device that efficiently planted seeds. A drawn replica of his invention is below information on Blair, while a stuffed animal horse is propped at the wall next to it as if to pull the contraption.

The high school’s college preparation office is decorated with information on historically black colleges and universities, of which some inventors went to.

Rinehart helped create door décor at the front office with guard Lawana Wortham and dean of students Jess Johnson. It was titled “Inventors of our future” and features black staff, volunteers and coaches who are helping students create the basis of their future lives.

Wortham coordinated with the Niles History Center to bring in the city’s own black history to compliment the door designs.

Near the cafeteria are banners made in 2015. They feature interviews Niles High School students with black Niles residents about their lives.

Wortham said she has seen students stop and read the signs, and she has watched a history class take notes on them.

“They’re finding out we have some really great people in our community,” she said. “These are people that grew up here, and they’re still here and are making a difference in our community.”

The banners and door designs, she said, show all students they can make a difference.