AHS to Present Fifth Annual Black History Program

Photo from the 2022 AHS ACE Club Black History Program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO




The Afro-Cultural-Education (ACE) Club at Auburn High School (AHS) will produce its fifth annual Black History Program Sunday, Feb. 19, at 3 p.m.

ACE’s mission is to educate students about Black History and Afro Culture through creative projects like its annual Black History Program. It is dedicated to promoting diversity, openness, representation and opportunity for everyone.

ACE exposes students to the rich heritage of African culture and supports them in their own academic and personal growth as strong citizens thriving in the global world. The club encourages positive and healthy lifestyles by emphasizing how the choices we make will affect history and our future generations.

Allysa Gentry, math teacher at AHS and sponsor for the ACE Club, said the students in the organization have been working on preparing for the 2023 Black History Program since August.

“Ever since then, the kids have been practicing three days a week,” Gentry said. “There are dances and skits; we have had outside choreographers come in to help teach some of the dances, but they have put a lot of time and energy in.”

Overall, 90 students are members of Auburn High School’s ACE Club. Just about 55 are participating in the Black History Program.

The 2023 program will look a little different from past years, Gentry said. While ACE’s Black History Program has previously honored those who came before us, this year it will bring attention to current racially driven topics.

“It’s going to be kind of different,” Gentry added. “Last year, we covered the post-WWII era and civil rights. This year, my officers wanted to make it more modern. So, we are going to cover the topic of police brutality and just make it more relevant for the teenagers in this day and age.”

The theme for this year’s program is “ELEVATE.” The word stands as a reminder that we have to lift each other up, especially in dark times.

ACE Club was originally started in 2018 by Auburn High School teacher Ruby Thomas. Unfortunately, Thomas passed away in 2019 after a battle with breast cancer, and Gentry has taken up the mantle ever since. While the circumstances of Gentry becoming the club’s sponsor were unfortunate, she considers herself thankful to have witnessed the growth of the club since she took over in 2020.

“When I started, it was very small,” Gentry said. “We didn’t really focus on any historical context. Now, we have grown tremendously. The kids are putting more of their input into everything. And also we are covering more of the issues for the students that are relevant to them. Now we are working with the high school’s TV Production class and have the show livestreamed. We have reached out to guest speakers in the past. We have just kind of reached out and got more community involvement since the very first year.”

Gentry, a minority herself, was once a student at Auburn High School (class of 2012) and said she remembers a lack of diversity being present in her education. Now, things are different, and the ACE Club is providing an opportunity for Black students to make a positive impact in their community by remembering the past to influence the future.

“From my perspective it’s great,” Gentry said of ACE Club. “There was not a club like this for students to see each other that looked alike in a classroom when I went to Auburn. There may have been one or two African-American students in any general class. Now, just to have a class like this where the students are able to express themselves is great to see.”

The fifth annual ACE Black History Program is a free event, however, the club will be accepting donations. The guest speaker is slated to be Auburn University Associate Provost and Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Taffye Benson Clayton. The program is about anything but money, however; it’s ultimately about giving Black students a voice while educating others and inspiring beneficial change.

“We hope everyone comes out and enjoys the performance with us,” Gentry said. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here