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Black History Month 2021



black history table
Wesleyan School installed a “Periodic Table of Black History” graphic at school.

Black History Month takes on special significance this year.

It comes just after Kamala Harris was sworn in as the nation’s vice president, becoming the first female, first Black person and first person of South Asian descent to hold the position.

The annual celebration also comes in the wake of last year’s global Black Lives Matter protests for racial justice and the passing in July of civil rights legend Congressman John Lewis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many of the Black History Month observances typically held in and around Peachtree Corners, sending them into the virtual world or cancelling them all together.

But the celebration will go on at many area schools, including Wesleyan School.

“At Wesleyan, we are seeking to engage in parts of history that are often forgotten, but that were pivotal in creating a better future for current generations,” said Dr. Jennifer Pinkett Smith, the school’s director of diversity. “Students and teachers learn about history that shows the resilience and courage of African Americans who often sacrificed their own safety and lives for equality.”

Here’s a sampling of Black History Month activities planned at schools and elsewhere in the Peachtree Corners area.

Private Schools

Greater Atlanta Christian School

Celebrating Black History Month has been an annual tradition at Greater Atlanta Christian School (GAC), said Charles Edwards, the school’s director of diversity and inclusion.

A dance group performs a hip hop routine at Greater Atlanta Christian School’s Black History Month Chapel in February 2020. From left, Adalia Thomas, Kennedi Milton, Taylor McIntosh, Abagale Payne, Kate Gary, Camryn Marion, Bridget Salter, Taylor Spotts, Zoe Jones, Sasha Niles and Lily Boehm.

“The year 2021 provides an even broader opportunity to share valuable contributions and struggles through historical people and events, alongside today’s headlines,” Edwards said. “America is a land of complicated history and delving into the ‘whys’ with students creates conversations leading to better understanding, respect and appreciation for the diversity we embrace.”

From left, Milani Anderson and Denver Tolson sing a medley of spirituals at Greater Atlanta Christian School’s Black History Month Chapel in February 2020.

Plans now underway include spotlights on Black heroes during the elementary students’ Spartan News Live program, shown in classrooms three days a week. Similar spotlights are in place for Middle and High School with a culminating, schoolwide Black History Month chapel program which will be held in-person and virtually on February 26. The annual program for grades K-12 typically includes music, dance and videos created and presented by GAC students and readings offered by students and a notable guest speaker.

Wesleyan School

Lower School students at Wesleyan School will journey through Black history with the book, “28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World.” Each day they will learn about contributions and the fight for equality that continues today.

Middle school students will journey back to the 1930s and learn about the use of “The Green Book,” a travel guide used by Black people to live and travel safely in America. Students will also learn about visionaries who continue the fight for equality.

High school students will view the Teaching Tolerance lesson “What Counts as History” and discuss how to keep the conversation about black history as a part of everyday history.

Public Schools

The following was compiled from information provided by the Gwinnett County Public School system and individual schools.

Coleman Middle School — Mini-lessons about black history will be made during morning announcements. Project-based lessons ask questions such as “How can we amplify the underrepresented voices of history?” and “How can we develop a character that influences social justice?”

Summerour Middle School — The school plans an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Door Decorating Contest, art displays, essay contest, Black author highlights in the media center and a celebration at the end of the month with student performances.

Duluth High School — The Social Studies Department will record a presentation of student performances that will be shared in classes. Students will also produce daily short videos of alumni, staff and students discussing historical figures, present influencers and their own experiences.

Duluth Middle School — A tribute to HBCU/Greek organizations includes school staffers sharing history and their experiences. Drama students will perform two virtual plays, “Kwanzaa Heroes” and “Freedom Riders.” Students will learn about several historical figures through a “virtual wax museum” and will hear Black History Month facts during daily announcements.

Norcross High School — Individuals who have made significant contributions in science, math, literature, history and other areas will be recognized throughout the month. Videos and sources for additional information will be shared.

Peachtree Elementary School — Historic and impactful Black people will be commemorated during daily morning newscasts and highlighted in ongoing lessons.

Pinckneyville Middle School — The observance will include inspirational videos during morning announcements, student book talks and a virtual museum field trip to one of the museums that offer them such as The Center for Civil and Human Rights and The National Museum of African History and Culture. The school’s annual Black History Month celebration takes place virtually on Feb. 21, featuring student performances and guest speakers.

Paul Duke Stem High School — Social Studies teachers and the Black Student Association plan daily messages highlighting “important and innovative Black leaders” and Black History will be highlighted daily in history classes. Video broadcasting students will create a special video with guest speakers that will be their major project for February. Black History and Culture spirit week takes place February 15-19 with themed dress-up days for faculty and students including Red, Black and Green Day (unity); College Day/HBCUs; Camouflage Day (in recognition of military contributions); Cowboy Day (in recognition of Black cowboys); and Black is Beautiful (wear all black in celebration of Black people).

Simpson Elementary School — The school plans to conduct a series of interactive discussions on Zoom for fourth and fifth graders with speakers from the journalism, legal, government and medical fields who will speak on the history of Black people in their professions.

Stripling Elementary School — The tentative plan for a schoolwide Book Museum includes each class selecting a book and discussing its main character. Students will create a display to post in the hallway and a classroom Google Slide to inform and inspire others. The slides will be compiled and placed on the school’s website.

Community Celebrations

Gwinnett County Public Library — The Grayson branch will offer a program for schools and the public on “The History of African American Voting and Civil Rights, 1865-Present.” The Norcross branch plans virtual programs on February 7, 14 and 21 on how to create your own art piece inspired by a contemporary Black artist’s work using tools and materials you probably have around the house.

The Suwanee and Centerville branches are partnering to do a three-part virtual series on HBCUs, including a program on the history and future impact of HBCUs on March 11 at 9 a.m., a panel discussion with HBCU alumni on March 18 at 6:30 p.m., and an HBCU admissions talk — “What Every Teen Needs to Know” — on March 25 at 6:30 p.m. For more details and links to these programs, visit the library system’s social media accounts or gwinnettpl.libnet.info/events.

United Ebony Society of Gwinnett County — The United Ebony Society actively works to educate, engage and promote community involvement emphasizing the diversity of Gwinnett County.

The organization’s annual display and program at the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center will not be held due to the pandemic. Instead, the United Ebony Society is partnering with Gwinnett County Community Outreach and other organizations to host virtual presentations and a service project. Students will be involved in this event.

Topics will include “African American History in Gwinnett County, historical sites, genealogy, and African American pacesetters throughout the African Diaspora.” Details are being finalized and will be available on unitedebonysociety.org and Facebook.

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What’s Happening at Pinckneyville Community Center this Month



NEW! Gwinnett “En Plein Air” Park Art Challenge: We’re calling Gwinnett artists 16 and older to participate in an artwork challenge! Paint an outdoor scene at one or more of the parks selected for a chance to win a cash prize. Saturday, August 5 to Saturday, November 11. Submission deadline is November 17. Please call 678-277-0920 for more information!


Adventure Days Out: We’ve got your school’s out childcare covered. Children will have an amazing experience trying new games, exploring new skills, making new friends and most of all, having fun! 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Ages 5-12. $30 per day.

  • October 5, 6, 9

NEW! Beginner Karate: This course consists of traditional martial arts self-defense to help students develop strength, knowledge and discipline. Our classes are safe, fun and exciting! Saturdays, October 7 – 28. 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Ages 5/up. $88.

NEW! Basic Drawing: Students will learn the basics of line, shape, value, texture, and perspective to create finished drawings in pencil and charcoal. Students will draw subject matter provided by the instructor. Call 678-277-0920 for dates and times. Ages 18/up. $201.

NEW! Understanding Watercolor: Taught by an award-winning watercolorist, this course emphasizes techniques in watercolor. Various subject matter from still life, landscape, animals to portraits will be rendered. All levels welcome. Call 678-277-0920 for dates and times. Ages 18/up. $201.

Get Into Watercolor: Learn the basics of watercolor from a seasoned instructor! This class is designed for beginners as well as the more experienced. Master the methods of watercolor to paint basic and complex shapes; development of depth through values, perspective, color and the composition of overall painting. Students will furnish their own materials (supply list will be provided). Saturdays, October 7 – November 11. 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $141.

Ballet–Preschool: Creative dances and imagination will help instill a love for dancing, as your toddler learns the basics of ballet in a positive and fun environment! Preschool ballet will need pink leather ballet shoes and pink footed tights, pink leotards and a pink skirt. Saturdays September 9 – 30. 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Ages 4–5. $37.

Ballet–Beg: Expand your child’s ballet abilities in this beginner class. Students will focus on developing ballet techniques and posturing. Beginner ballet will need pink leather ballet shoes and pink footed tights, pink leotards and a pink skirt. Saturdays, September 9 – 30. 12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Ages 6–9. $37.

Ballet–Int: Expand your child’s ballet abilities in this beginner class. Students will focus on developing ballet techniques and posturing. Beginner ballet will need pink leather ballet shoes and pink footed tights, pink leotards and a pink skirt. Saturdays, September 9 – 30. 9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Ages 7–10. $37.

Ballet–Int: Students will reinforce their ballet techniques, physical strength, flexibility, and musicality in this intermediate level class. Dancers need pink leather ballet shoes, pink footed tights, black leotard and a black skirt. Saturdays, September 9 – 30. 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Ages 11–16. $37.

Ballet–Adv/Pointe: This class is designed for dancers 15 or older, aimed at strengthening ballet technique, flexibility, and performance levels. More demanding and complex movements will help your student master the art of ballet. Dancers need pink leather ballet shoes, pink footed tights, black leotard and a black skirt. Saturdays, September 9 – 30. 10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Ages 15/up. $37.

NEW! Hip Hop/Jazz: Tone your body and get your heart pumping to the beats of your favorite music! Students will learn fun, innovative, and unique dance routines that will strengthen their dance skills. Each class consists of stretching, exercise, cool downs and dance choreography. Drop in any class for only $15. Wednesdays, September 13 – November 1. 6:10 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Ages 8-12 $81.

NEW! SWEAT: This class incorporates all aspects of fitness: cardio, resistance, flexibility and core training structured in segments that focus on upper, middle and lower body exercises. This class will improve endurance, strength, muscle, tone and definition for all fitness levels. Wednesdays, September 13 – November 1. 7:10 p.m. – 7:50 p.m. Ages 18/up. $81.

NEW! 3D Printing Workshops: Unlock your child’s creativity and introduce them to the exciting world of 3D modeling and printing! Our class teaches the basics of 3D design using industry-standard software, Blender and bringing designs to life through 3D printing. Participants will gain valuable skills such as problem solving, spatial reasoning, creativity and attention to detail while having fun creating their own unique 3D printed creation. A laptop and mouse are needed for this class. Required: A $10 material fee is due at the start of the class paid directly to the instructor Optional: $10/session for laptop rental fee. Please reserve ahead. Highly recommended to bring your own laptop and mouse. 

  • 3D Printing Experience: Saturdays in August, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m., Ages 6 – 18, $36
  • Design Thinking in 3D Printing: Saturdays, August 5 – 19, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Ages 6 – 18, $100


NEW! Session begins September 11, registration opens August 30.

Wheel: This class is perfect for beginner pottery students who want to learn the basics of working with a pottery wheel. $22 per bag of clay required. Mondays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $128.

Wheel Adv: Advanced pottery wheel lessons that build on the beginner class so you can hone your skills and perfect your craft. $22 per bag of clay required. Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $128.

Wheel/Handbuilding – Beginner: This class is for true beginners interested in pottery, both wheel and handbuilding will be explored. Try it out and explore a new art form! $22 per bag of clay required. Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $128.

Wheel/Handbuilding – Adv: This course incorporates working with a pottery wheel and hand building with clay for more experienced students. $22 per bag of clay required. Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $128.

Handbuilding: No wheel necessary in this course, learn how to work and create with your hands using clay and tools. $22 per bag of clay required. Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ages 16/up. $128.

Independent Study: Open studio session for individual pottery artists. Must complete Pottery Studio orientation prior to first visit if you are a new patron. Monday – Saturday. Ages 16/up. $100.

Independent Study ADD ON: Open studio session for individual pottery artists.  Must be registered for current pottery class. Monday – Saturday. Ages16/up. $30. 

*Out of county resident fees applied at time of registration*


Atlanta Gourd Patch: Create art on gourd canvases. Meeting the second Saturday of each month, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. To register contact Kay Rozea at 470-316-8185 or kmr01@aol.com.

Atlanta Hobby Robotics Club: Come and share your robotics ideas. All ages are welcome. Meeting on the third Saturday of each month, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. To register contact Walter Burleson at 404-932-8108 or wlenbl@gmail.com.

Senior Bridge Club: A trick-taking card game using a standard 52-card deck. In its basic format, it is played by four players in two competing partnerships. 50/up. Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. To register contact Mary Fender at 678-357-6709 or maryrfender@yahoo.com.

Bridge- Act II: Fourth Monday of each month from 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. For more information contact JoAnne Leisen at 571-330-4730.

Guitars for Vets: Helping Veterans cope with PTSD through music. Participants get 10 weeks of one–on–one lessons. When finished with lessons participants will receive a free guitar! Mondays, 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. To register contact Cliff Meinhardt at 404-234-8040. Visit guitars4vets.org for more information.

Gwinnett Chess Club: Chess for all ages. All experiences are welcomed. Every other Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. To register contact Tom Emch at 770-605-0429 or ibemch@charter.net.

Last Tuesday Book Club: Join in on all the reading fun! Meets the last Tuesday of each month.

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Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA Plans ‘Welcoming Week’ and More Exciting Events This Fall



Welcoming Week: Reserve your FREE one-time guest pass during the week of September 8 – 17 and enjoy everything the Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA has to offer. Welcoming Week provides an opportunity for Peachtree Corners neighbors, whether they are immigrants or U.S.-born residents, to connect and strengthen community bonds. From swim class and water safety to day camps, group workouts and community well-being initiatives, the Rober D. Fowler Family YMCA has something for the whole family.

Guest passes do not include access to outdoor pools or basketball facilities in the gymnasium. Click here for you free guest pass.

Lifelong Learners: Healthy living doesn’t always mean physical activity. Creative thinking, exploring interests, and learning new things are as important as diet and exercise. That is the philosophy behind Lifelong Learners. For ages 50 and up, Lifelong Learners offers seniors the chance to come together and enjoy guest speakers, local field trips and spirited cultural discussions. The group meets every other Friday at 12:15 p.m. in the Senior Center. For more information, email Rob Wilson at robertw@ymcaatlanta.com.

Grief and Loss Support Group: Grief and loss are two of the most difficult emotions to face in life, but you don’t have to face them alone. Every Monday at 11 a.m. in the Senior Meeting Room, the Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA provides a safe and caring environment for participants to come together and begin to understand the grief process. For more information, connect with Ellie Garrett at ejgarrett@gmail.com.

Caring for Those Who Care: The YMCA’s weekly Caregivers Group provides a dedicated meeting space for caregivers to offer and receive emotional support. If you are providing care for a loved one, or want to learn more about long term caregiving, this group is for you. The group offers practical information while respecting confidentiality and encouraging camaraderie. Take this opportunity to build relationships with others in similar situations every Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. in the Senior Meeting Room. To learn more, email Mary Crawley at mcrawley@wans.net.

More Senior Activities: 

  • Canasta: Every Monday at 2 p.m. in the Senior Meeting Room,
  • Dominoes: Every Thursday at 10:45 a.m. in the Senior Meeting Room

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Gully-Washer Subsides to Keep ‘Light Up The Corners’ on Track



Call it luck or divine intervention, but some force in the universe was determined that the 10th annual Light Up The Corners event was going to take place as planned. About an hour before start time, the deluge that threatened the area with heavy rains and strong winds on Saturday, Aug. 12, began to subside.

By the planned 8 p.m. start, the sun had peeked through the clouds and fun and festivities were in full swing.

Guests from all across metro Atlanta gathered at The Forum at Peachtree Corners for the four-mile glow run and one kilometer twilight trot benefitting the Fowler Family YMCA. The evening raised over $60,000 for the local community center, according to organizers.

“This event has taken on a life of its own,” said Light Up The Corners race organizer Amy Massey in a press release. “The run is less about competition and more about friends, neighbors and families coming together to participate in a healthy, family-friendly fun way to ‘glow for the good’ of the community.”

Despite the weather threat, this year’s event attracted a record number of participants, sponsors and volunteers with more than 1,400 registered runners and hundreds of spectators cheering along the racecourse. Even if the physical activities weren’t your thing, there were plenty of other attractions to keep one occupied.

The festivities included activities for the whole family, a live DJ, roaming entertainment — one of the dancers was a dead ringer for Katy Perry — face painting, neon manicures, special prizes and awards for the runners. Light bites, beverages and giveaways were provided by The Forum retailers and restaurants, along with local schools, churches and businesses across the Peachtree Corners and metro Atlanta area.

“Light Up The Corners has become a truly beloved tradition not only for The Forum, but the entire Peachtree Corners community. Witnessing thousands of glowing runners is a thrill from start to finish, and we’re honored to support our friends at the YMCA year after year,” said Charlotte Hinton, The Forum marketing manager.

Since its inception, Light Up The Corners has raised more than $400,000 for the Fowler Family YMCA. To learn more, go to lightupthecorners.com.

Photos by George Hunter

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