Frederick McKinley Jones, inventor of modern-day refrigeration (and born in Cincinnati). Marie Van Brittan Brown, inventor of home security systems using television surveillance. Moziah Bridges, founder of Mo’s Bows, who appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and secured a licensing partnership with the NBA (by age 15). Mikaila Ulmer, founder of Me & the Bees Lemonade, a drink product with profits that raise money to conserve honeybees. Westwood School students presented these impressive inventors at a recent event celebrating the excellence, achievement and leadership of African Americans.
“We wanted to show our students people of color who are successful and instill that students can do it, whatever ‘it’ is,” said music teacher Jay Bailey, who coordinated the program for all K-6 students. “If we learn one thing today, it’s that, yes, we can!”
Part of the program included two guest speakers, both of whom were students within Cincinnati Public Schools, and who now work in the district.
“I wanted to relate with the students,” said guest speaker Christopher Griffin, a paraprofessional. “I come from the same neighborhood. I had an IEP (Individualized Education Program) in school, and I wanted to let them know that those circumstances didn’t stop me, so they can still do whatever they want to do.”
The other guest speaker was William “P.J.” Pope, an athletic director at Shroder High School. He attended Bowling Green State University on a full scholarship and played in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos.
“More valuable than football was the degree I earned,” he told students. Pope knew there would be an “after football” phase of his life and said his education—which included going back to school to earn a Master’s degree in sports administration—helped prepare him for success.
In the theme of Westwood’s Vision 2020 focus of Student Enterprise, students presented their own original work and ideas. A few fifth-grade students read original poetry:
“I watched Michelle Obama as the First Lady of the United States. Maybe I can make a difference in my community,” read one student’s original poem.
“The dream I have is the one I wake to every day,” read another student from her original poetry.
To conclude the festivities, the Unicorn Squad, who were the winners of “Dolphin Tank” – the “Shark Tank”-style business competition for grade five – shared their winning business pitch for their product, “Slime.” Be-dazzled, the winners from the sixth-grade’s “Shark Tank” competition, shared their business pitch for jar necklaces.
“You can be any one of these people we featured today,” said Bailey at the close of the program.
Keep up with Westwood School and the many ways their Vision 2020 focus of Student Enterprise is incorporated into learning and enrichment at westwoodschool.cps-k12.org.