Over the course of her time at Gettysburg’s Vida Charter School, current principal Elaine Nashelsky has watched the school’s Black History Month celebrations transform and grow.
“Having now been at Vida for almost seven years. I’ve had the opportunity to see Black History Month blossom,” she said.
The charter school’s Black History Month events take a collaborative community approach. Nashelsky said Gettysburg resident Blessing Shahid, founder of Indigenous Glow and a major contributor to numerous Black History Month and Juneteenth celebrations in Gettysburg, has supported Vida. “Shahid has visited numerous classes delivering informational presentations surrounding Black History Month, specifically Black Resistance,” said Nashelsky.
Nashelsky said the staff and students remembered Black History all year long. “We try to make sure that Black History Month doesn’t stand apart from what students are doing throughout the entire year,” she said. “So, we have what’s called interdisciplinary units and educators are thinking about the relationship between their content and the framing of unit questions around Black History Month.”
“February is the shortest month of the year. Collaborations having to do with black history shouldn’t be confined to the month of February,” she said.
The school will hold an assembly on March 2where the upper-grade choir will recite segments of Martin Luther King Junior’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “This is a really powerful way that at Vida we support students to grapple with the complex questions of our collective history and do so in ways that are safe and appropriate developmentally,” said Nashelsky.
From her perspective as a teacher and as principal, Nashelsky shared her admiration for Vida, describing the elementary school as special. Nashelsky said the dual-language model at Vida attracts students from as far Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
“Students have come to the school because there really isn’t anything like us in this area,” said Nashelsky.
Vida’s mission and vision embody an environment meant to embrace diversity, cultural competence, and compassion. Nashelsky was confident that the dual-language approach carried out by dedicated educators ensured these goals.
“Vida is special because of the people who are both within the school and in alignment with the school. We are special because of the partners in the community that are our champions, and there are many.”
Nashelsky said the school partners with many local non-profits, including the Adams County Arts Council, the Gleaning Project, SCAAP, Ruth’s Harvest, Gettysburg College, Casa de la Cultura, and the Adams County Community Foundation.
Vida Charter School is currently enrolling students for the 2023-2024 academic year. Tours are offered to any interested families, and a Dual-Language Night will be hosted on March 16 for prospective families to learn more about the school.
Juliette is a spring intern at Gettysburg Connection and a sophomore at Gettysburg College. Juliette is a declared Public Policy and Women, Gender, and Sexuality double major with a concentration in social justice. When she is not in class or studying, Juliette co-chairs the campus Public Policy Student Council, founded and is president of the Amnesty International Chapter, and mentors her residents as a residential assistant.