WE-SIDE Representatives Discuss Black History Month with Early Childhood Center


Brittney Bolkovac

Sophomore Violet Collins reads a picture book about Black leaders to students at Underwood Hills.

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, members of the WE-SIDE Student Advisory Committee recently read children’s books about Black History Month at the Underwood Hills Early Learning Center. The event was originally going to occur on Thursday Feb. 16 but was rescheduled due to the snow day.

Coordinator of Underwood Hills Early Childhood Center Jeanette Lengemann set up the event to help younger Westside students learn about Black History Month. She handpicked the books read by the WE-SIDE representatives.

Westside Dean Brittney Bolkovac and sponsor of WE-SIDE helped the representativesBrBo with the event. WE-SIDE student representatives visited Underwood Hills twice during the day, reading for about an hour each session. Most of the picture books were about black historical leaders.

“The WHS WE-SIDE student group was selected, as students enjoy interacting with one another, so by having [the student group] present, it allowed for the high school students to serve as peer models,” Bolkovac said. “We promote equity, inclusion and belonging for all, and this was a special way to engage with the younger students we otherwise might not have the chance to.”

The group went to Underwood Hills after participating in Westbrook Elementary’s Wildcat of the Month celebration. Junior Mason Dostal, a WE-SIDE student representative, was present at the reading. He enjoyed the experience of reading to the preschoolers. 

“Even though they might not even listen to it, I think just teaching kids about that sort of thing when they’re young is the best time to do it,” Dostal said. “It’s better to learn history earlier rather than later in your life.”

Early Childhood Special Education instructor Wendy Bailey said she appreciated the experience  of listening to the WE-SIDE representatives read and talk about Black History Month. 

“I think it’s wonderful for the little ones to see high schoolers in their classrooms,” Bailey said.