Arlington Public Schools is celebrating Black History Month with a series of community events and African-American Read-Ins at our schools. The main event celebrating Black History Month is Arlington: Past, Present and Future Excellence on February 20th at Washington-Lee High School. The event is sponsored by the Office of Equity and Excellence. We invite the community to join us to celebrate the contributions of these Model of Excellence students who were nominated by APS staff for their academic achievement, exemplary leadership and commitment to service that has significant and positive impacts on their school and/or community.
Also this year, APS will feature new APS Alumni Trailblazers each week during Black History Month. These are outstanding African-American community leaders and graduates of APS who have paved the way in our community. Read about them below.
Cleveland James is a 1970 graduate of Wakefield High School. Born and raised in Arlington, Va, he was the second of five children. He was taught early in his life about responsibility, the importance of education and providing service to others. He grew up in a family that was well recognized in the Nauck Community, due to their involvement in the schools, national organizations/activities and the community store (James Delicatessen) that his father owned and operated. Currently, as the Principal at Langston High School Continuation Education Program, his beliefs have not wavered, they have only gotten stronger. He started many activities for the students to enhance their knowledge and appreciation about the importance of education, career planning and job seeking. He encourages his students to attend all local College and Employment fairs and will personally seek out job opportunities/applications from all local employers. You can easily find many of his past students that will tell you how James had a positive impact on their career/employment path to becoming a productive adult. He is a member of Iota Phi Theta where he serves as the Educational and Career Information Officer and serves on the Scholarship Committee. He presently holds a seat on the Board for the Arlington Food Assistance Center and is a member of the Nauck Civic Association just to name a few. James holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Health and Physical Education and a Masters in Education/Administration. He believes that every person should have the opportunity to complete their education pursuit that will enhance their future career opportunities.
Tony Harrison is a 1987 graduate of Washington-Lee High School. He attended Glebe Elementary School and Williamsburg Middle School. He grew up on Halls Hill and is a graduate of Norfolk State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Design. Harrison is a Cyber Systems Engineer and has worked at Northrop Grumman for the past 19 years. He has also served as the Statistical Technical Coordinator for the Washington Wizards and Mystics, and a Player Participation Analyst for the NFL for the past 12 years. Receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Norfolk State University Alumni Association in 2015, he currently sits on the University’s Alumni Board of Directors and is President of the Greater Northern Virginia Chapter of the NSUAA.Harrison is very active in his community and an advocate for APS. He has mentored many students from Arlington through the Kappa Leadership Development League. The Kappa Youth Leadership & Development League is a program designed to aid young men grow and develop their leadership talents in every phase of human endeavor. This national initiative commonly referred to as “Kappa League” is a program for the educational, occupational and social guidance of male students in grades 6th-12th. Many of the young men who met monthly for the leadership program at Thomas Jefferson went on to graduate from Morehouse College, James Madison and Hampton University just to name a few. Words of advice that Harrison would give to students is “Pay attention to your parents, they are looking out for your best interest,” “Take advantage of the mentorship opportunities that surround you,” “One person you meet can change your life,” and “Never underestimate anyone.”
Wilma Jones Kilgo is a 1977 graduate of Stratford Junior High School. She spent her early years at the segregated Langston Elementary School and then went on to Lee-Reed Elementary School. Wilma is a top-performing director in corporate information technology sales and has built a successful career as a television and music producer, popular keynote speaker, self-published author and community activist. During her multifaceted career, she’s always juggled multiple jobs at once, inspiring and supporting others while pursuing her own passions. Initially, Kilgo operated a successful grant writing and consulting business that raised more than $50 million for minority colleges and non-profits supporting underserved communities in just five years. She also wrote, sold and executive produced a music entertainment television show that aired on a cable television network for three years; produced two CD releases; and managed tours for a jazz artist for five years. Kilgo is a go-getter and perpetual learner who inspires others to pursue and achieve their goals no matter their circumstance. Kilgo’s third book, My Halls Hill Family: More Than a Neighborhood, is a historic memoir of the Arlington neighborhood she grew up in and still resides in today, Halls Hill. As a fourth-generation resident of Halls Hill, which was a completely African-American community until the 1970’s, the book is he way of preserving some of the community’s rich history and stories. To the many people who grew up there, visited family there or even spent time there, Halls Hill was more than a neighborhood. Kilgo works to help others save and share the stories and experiences of their neighborhoods, too. Visit HallsHill.com and remember, “If we can’t save grandma’s house, we can save her history. ™
Portia Clark is a 1976 graduate of Wakefield High School. She attended a variety of Arlington Public Schools, including Drew Elementary School, Gunston Middle School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, and Hoffman-Boston. Clark is a community activist, creative self-starter and trailblazer whose programs have created positive changes in the Nauck community that she calls home. In 1996, Clark founded and developed the Community Association of Resources, Education, Enrichment & Economics (CARE), Inc. She is the current President of the Nauck Civic Association and has received several awards and recognitions. She has acquired a wealth of knowledge from her engagement in community development and civic matters focusing on helping underserved residents in the community.She has served on numerous boards and committees in Arlington including the Bonder and Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation and the Arlington Partnership for Youth & Families, to name a few. She has degrees in Organizational Management and Computer Information Systems and is a graduate of the first class of the Arlington Neighborhood College. She also graduated from the Women’s Executive Leadership Program of the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in 1994. Clark retired from the federal government in 2014, after 34 years of service. She is married to Jake Clark and has three adult children and six grandchildren, all of whom reside in Arlington. Clark believes in enriching the lives of others with a helping hand.
Black History Month Events
Feb. 4 – APS Desegregation: A 60th Anniversary Tribute Honoring the Past, Envisioning the Future – 6 p.m. at H-B Woodlawn
Feb. 21 – Barrett will be hosting African American History Night from 6-7 p.m. in the Barrett Library. Activities include a read aloud, book raffle and craft activity.
Feb. 28 – H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program will host a Black History Month Talent Show “Journey to Wakanda” 1:15pm-2:20pm in the auditorium
Feb. 28 – Taylor will be hosting the Annual African American Read-In by celebrating author, Kareem Abdul Jabaar’s book, What Color is my World: The Lost History of African American Inventors & Innovators. The students will dance, sing and perform skits to bring inventors such as, Madam C. J. Walker, Lonnie Johnson and Dr. Patricia Bath to life. Mr. McFail, our retired building super, will come back and perform his original spoken word poetry entitled, Give “Em Credit for the Work They Have Done. Showtimes – 9:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
This page will be updated with additional events. Please check back soon.