Sandy Spring Friends School



Updates from the OIEJB: Black History Month Recap; Preview of Ramadan and Women's History Month

Updates from the OIEJB: Black History Month Recap; Preview of Ramadan and Women's History Month

As we kick off March, the Office of Institutional Equity, Justice, and Belonging (OIEJB) shares a recap of February events and activities honoring Black History Month and provides information about Ramadan and Women's History Month.

Black History Month 2024

BHM Wall in US

SSFS celebrated Black History Month in a variety of ways across all three academic divisions and in the broader community:

In Lower School, the First Grade is led the LS Community Art Project by learning about Black architects such as Paul R. Williams, and their contribution to residential house designs, public spaces, and the creation of institutions in the form of hospitals, HBUs, museums, and more. Students thought about how the design of the space we are in can meet our physical needs and provide the safety necessary to gather, organize, learn, and create. Other grades read books and dove into lessons representing Black History, culture, and important figures as it related to their work from MLK Day and their science and social studies curriculums. 

In the Middle School, bulletin board displays, book lists, and advisory lessons were complemented by three themed days: Black Hero day, Proud of my Hair Day, and HBCU day. Via announcements from students in Meeting for Worship, middle schoolers were invited to dress as a Black Hero, celebrate their hair, and wear hats or other clothing from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Black History Month Assembly 2024

Students in Upper School mounted a student art display in the Atrium of Pen Y Bryn that celebrated multimedia creativity ranging from painting to sculpture to fashion. In addition to slides highlighting famous figures like Gwen Ifill and Katherine Johnson, the Black Students Affinity Group and Arts teacher Dana Scott wrote and performed an assembly program featuring student poems, poems by Maya Angelou, jazz standards, contemporary hits by artists like Rihanna, and a multimodal finale incorporating dance, poetry, and music.

Finally, parents, students, faculty and staff, members of Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting, and residents from Friends House gathered to celebrate the life of Bayard Rustin. Following a screening of the 2023 Netflix film Rustin, George Lakey, a lifelong activist who knew Mr. Rustin, and Toni Graves Williamson, who identified Rustin as a central influence in her professional life, engaged in a discussion about Mr. Rustin that included their personal reflections on one of the lesser-known figures from the Civil Rights Movement and questions from the audience.

Thank you to everyone on campus who helped celebrate the contributions of Black people on campus, in the U.S., and around the world!

Women's History Month 2024

Spring at SSFS brings with it Immersion Week, Intersession, early planning for Field Day, and well-deserved rest during Spring Break. Amidst that seasonal transition, we also turn our attention to Women’s History Month, which recognizes the myriad societal contributions of well-known figures like Susan B. Anthony and Rosa Parks, and lesser-known women like Sheila Michaels, Yosana Akiko, and Claudia Jones

When President Jimmy Carter declared the Week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week, he wrote a proclamation that read in part:

“From the first settlers who came to our shores…men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”

By 1987, through a series of bipartisan Congressional partnerships and resolutions, what began as a week expanded to the entire month when Congress declared March National Women’s History Month.

This year’s theme, according to The National Women’s History Alliance, celebrates “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.” At SSFS, that celebration will include ongoing grade-level leadership in the Lower School Community Art Project: building on First Grade’s success introducing their LS peers and teachers to Black Architects during Black History Month, Fourth Grade will take the lead as the community learns about sculptor Louise Nevelson, a Jewish woman born in the Russian Empire and what is now Kyiv, Ukraine. Nevelson is known for her monumental, monochromatic, wooden wall pieces and outdoor sculptures, even though she had to fight and navigate a male-dominated professional market. Resources will be sent to all grades so that teachers can weave themes and other historical figures into their class curriculums.

In Middle School, bulletin boards will offer profiles of women who made significant contributions to history, and as always, students will be able to check out books by and about women. Curriculum-enriching materials will be offered to teachers, and some Immersion-week content will be geared toward celebrating the month.

Upper School will celebrate female students’ creativity with a visual art display in the Atrium, and an assembly late in the month that balances learning about Women’s History Month with contemporary artistic expression by current students. Slides in the Upper School will feature profiles of lesser-known but historically significant women, and the Girls Affinity Group will set up tables in the Atrium during free times that offer community education and more.

Please join SSFS and the National Women's History Alliance this month in a "recognition of women, past and present, who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling including print, radio, TV, stage, screen, blogs, podcasts, news, and social media."



Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, begins on Sunday, March 10 at sunset, and will last until Tuesday, April 9 at sunset. Practicing Muslim students and staff at Sandy Spring Friends School will be fasting (not eating food or drinking water) from dawn until dusk (approximately 6:00 am to 8:00 pm). 

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Muslim Lunar calendar and therefore takes place 10 days earlier each year.  In 2023, Ramadan began on sunset of March 22 and ended on sunset of April 21.  Muslims fast the month of Ramadan to devote themselves to their faith and come closer to Allah, or God in order to increase their spirituality, discipline, self-restraint, and generosity.  Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, which form the foundation upon which Muslims live their lives. The other pillars are faith, prayer, charity, and performing the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. Learn more about Ramadan.

On Wednesday, March 27, from 7:00-8:30 pm in the AC Gym, the Muslim Student Affinity Group will host an Iftar evening on campus. Iftar is a significant part of each day during the month of Ramadan, when Muslims come together at sunset to break fast, reflect on blessings, and extend compassion to those around us. Everyone is welcome to come and join in the meal to break the Ramadan fast at sunset, share a dish, and learn about Ramadan traditions. Kindly RSVP by March 25, and contact Shahana Pagen with questions.

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