Grand Avenue Middle School immerses students in Black History Month


During Black History Month, many schools will celebrate and learn about the achievements of African-Americans, recognizing their contributions to the growth and development of the United States. In Bellmore-Merrick, this is often done through lessons in class, especially in elective classes such as Past, Present, and Future at Grand Avenue Middle School in Bellmore.

Students began the unit with a lesson on Black History Month, followed by a biography project on a notable figure of their choosing whether in the past or present. This was followed up by creating a collaborative mural for the building based on those key figures they researched, then wrapping everything up with an escape room activity.

“The escape room provides a fun atmosphere for reinforcing their understanding of topics” said Krisitn Fusaro, teacher of the Past, Present, and Future class.

Breakout EDU, the escape room box used in Past, Present, and Future, was used as a way for students to experience learning hands on which helps improve their skills of working together, critical thinking and exercising their creativity.

This unit’s escape room game is based on the Harlem Renaissance and Great Migration topics, including activities like cracking codes to open locks and using ciphers to decode poems. The heart of the exercise though, is collaboration. For students, they work together to unlock the different steps of the escape room, while staff worked together to make it all happen. Fusaro worked with her humanities partner teacher to pick the poem for the activity, while the library media specialist helped build the lesson.

Each year, the curriculum is tailored for the needs of the students, adding in new and exciting activities to the core of different unit — including the escape room.

“We highlight those important African-Americans and learn about why they’re important and why we study them, but also the struggles that existed as well through the Great Migration and Harlem Renaissance” Fusaro said.

Through this unit, students have the opportunity take control and exercise their independence over their education through the different available activities.

“The students have been working really diligently in embracing the project” Fusaro said. “They got to select the prominent African-American figure for their research projects, and that often gives them ownership in creating their best work. It also gives us insight into what interests our students.”