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Ireton students’ ‘Phenomenal Friday’ celebrates Black History Month

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The African-American Heritage and Culture Club (AAHAC), a fairly new club at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, is making a significant impact within the school. Led by juniors Taylor Johnson and Bryan Bokino, as well as senior Abigail Abraham, the AAHAC club debuted in early 2018. The main goal of the club is to inform the community on African-American history, culture and heritage.

When Johnson, the founder and leader of the club, transferred to Ireton during her sophomore year, she noticed there was a misunderstanding about African-American culture. Taylor explained how she was inspired after watching the movie “Hidden Figures,” which highlighted three African-American women who made crucial contributions to NASA space exploration. She was fascinated by them and surprised that she had never heard of these women. This motivated her to create the club and promote an increased understanding of other “hidden figures.”

The club aims to augment information already included in the school’s curriculum about African-American history and culture. Bokino explained that clubs such as AAHAC help discourage the use of racial slurs that are insulting, dismissive and disrespectful. Another major goal of the club includes recognizing and appreciating the importance of notable African-American figures, such as mathematician Katherine Johnson, physicist Dr. Shirley Jackson and inventor Garrett Morgan.

“It’s fulfilling and important to educate ourselves on our ancestry and learn about those who have done great things in our community,” said Abraham. 

It is crucial today for everyone to appreciate African-American culture not only during February, Black History Month, but throughout the entire year. Earlier in February, the club hosted an event called “Phenomenal Friday,” (named after Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman”), which featured games, a Rubix Cube, jazz and poetry recitations celebrating Black History Month. The AAHAC club plans to increase awareness by promoting African-American culture through other events and activities at Ireton.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019