Columbia High School Students Seek — and Find — Leaders During Black History Month


Math leader/club advisor developed Black History Month Scavenger Hunt to help students of color visualize their futures

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The following press release is from the South Orange-Maplewood School District:

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. – Columbia High School (CHS) students involved in the Aspiring Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT) club are looking for a few good men and women who are people of color and have achieved leadership positions as part of a special scavenger hunt for Black History Month.

CHS Math Teacher Abiodun “Bibi” Banner, the club’s faculty advisor, came up with the idea before the pandemic shutdown as a way for the ALOT members, who are predominantly people of color, to visualize the possibilities for their own futures.

“I wanted the students in the club to meet people of color in positions of leadership,” said Banner, who is in her tenth year teaching at the high school. “It’s important for them to see the faces of people who have achieved notoriety and leadership in different fields and see that many of those people look like them.”

There are 23 different professional distinctions on Banner’s scavenger hunt list. A doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a police officer, a school principal, and someone who started their own business are among those who might be considered easier to access. Banner has also challenged her students to connect with a CEO of a company, a famous actor or actress, a professional athlete, or a professional artist.

CHS Math Teacher Abiodun “Bibi” Banner and A LOT President Lucky Rathod.

To receive credit for connecting with a professional, the students need to arrange a time to interview the professionals on video. They get one point for getting a photo of their interview subject, and two points for photos of the student with their interview subject. A bonus of six points is awarded to students who connect with a judge, a schools superintendent, and a mayor.

The students’ video interview and photos will be compiled into a video that will be released on their club’s social media channels on February 29.

Banner said the scavenger hunt helps the students develop their research and networking skills.

Lucky Rathod, a senior who is working to complete the scavenger hunt, said that the activity does present a significant challenge to students.

“You have to know how to reach the right people,” Rathod said. “It’s kind of hard to work outside of your comfort zone.”

And then she smiled.

“But I think I’m getting the hang of it.”

Acting Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kevin F. Gilbert applauded Banner’s creative efforts.

“Too often during Black History Month, there is a tendency to focus solely on the great figures of Black History – MLK, Harriet Tubman, and others,” said Gilbert. “The reality is that Black History is being made every day by people who have accomplished great things in their professions and their communities, even though we may not know their names. Ms. Banner has challenged her students to go find those people of color who have done great things and teach us all about them.”

Any person of color who would like to participate in the scavenger hunt as someone to be interviewed by a student is encouraged to email Ms. Banner at

The complete scavenger hunt list follows.

Find someone who:

  1. …started their own business
  2. …is a president of an organization
  3. …won an award
  4. …is a CEO of a company
  5. …is a medical doctor
  6. …is a lawyer
  7. …is an engineer
  8. …is a famous actor or actress
  9. …is a principal, vice principal, school administrator
  10. …is a police officer
  11. …has performed on Broadway
  12. …is a professional athlete
  13. …holds an advanced degree (Ph.D., MBA, etc.)
  14. …organized a protest
  15. …published a book or an article
  16. …is an inventor
  17. …is a computer scientist
  18. …is a motivational speaker
  19. …is a personal trainer/nutritionist
  20. …is a professional artist
  21. …is a judge
  22. …is a Superintendent of Schools
  23. …is a mayor

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