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Plymouth Whitemarsh High School

Unity Day provides opportunity for connection

Unity Day provides opportunity for connection

Portions of this article were contributed by Matt Licwinko, PWHS Class of 2024

Colonial School District students, faculty, and staff came together in a variety of different ways on Feb. 26 to celebrate the seventh annual Unity Day.

This annual celebration, organized by the high school’s Black Cultural Awareness club (BCA), is held during Black History Month and has grown from a high school-only observation to one that is shared district-wide. The entire school district community is invited to walk in the light of Dr. Martin Luther King’s message of unity, or to embrace any activity that brings everyone together.

At Ridge Park Elementary School, students marched together around their school, carrying posters and flowers they had colored as part of a No Place Hate activity at the school. The students read the book, “Just Ask” by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and the children decorated flowers to represent their individuality and the beauty that is created when everyone comes together into one big garden. After being carried in the Unity Walk, the flowers will be scattered around to decorate the school. 

“A lot of the students want to know why we’re celebrating being unified, and it’s fun to talk to them about how we’re a family at Ridge Park and celebrate everybody,” said Dave Caruso, Teacher on Special Assignment. “It’s cool to see all their smiling faces and them just enjoying the time.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh High School students were also smiling during their walk around the track, despite the chilly morning temperature. Following the walk, the students gathered in the gym to watch a performance by the BCA Step Team and to hear from Cheyenne Cobin, a Fox 29 television reporter who also works for a station in Maryland. According to her bio, her passion for journalism was born out of a desire to build trust and provide a platform for the underrepresented to share their voices.

Ms. Cobin, a graduate of North Penn High School, told students that as a person of color, she often felt like an outsider growing up, even when she was among other people of color.

“Everyone is ‘too something’ for someone else,” she said.

Instead of simply accepting differences, Ms. Cobin invited students to embrace differences. She encouraged them to respect one another even when they disagree, and to make a positive impact by choosing unity over divisiveness.

“Anyone here that feels like they have something that makes them ‘too whatever’ – use that to make yourself better,” she said. 

Meanwhile, over at Colonial Elementary School, students shared “blackout poems” that they had created after learning about poet Kwame Alexander, who wrote “The Undefeated.”

“It’s important to share your poetry, so that other people can be inspired by what you made,” said fourth-grader Thomas Martinez.

Students’ “blackout poems” were made by taking an existing text, outlining individual words or phrases, and blocking out or drawing pictures over the remaining text to create something new. The original texts included “I, Too” by Langston Hughes, “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou, and “Frederick Douglass” by Robert Hayden. 

“My favorite thing was coloring the background, because it was fun to think of stuff that would go along with the poem,” said fourth-grader Sarah Moore, who incorporated drawings of birds and the Earth into her interpretation of the Maya Angelou poem.  

Conshohocken Elementary School students also got creative with signs that they made for Unity Day. They proudly held their signs aloft during their Unity Walk up Harry Street, which was led by BCA members. Signs showing messages like “You Matter” and with images of the globe, as well as many hearts and rainbows, were on display.

Following their walk, Conshohocken Elementary School students who have been learning step dance performed for their peers. The celebration concluded with a performance by BCA’s step dance team at the school.

Colonial Middle School students ended their school day on Feb. 26 with a Unity Walk, which has become a positive event for everyone participating. BCA members joined in with their younger classmates for this walk as well.

When asked about his favorite part of the Unity Walk, sixth-grader Tyion Smith said: “Getting to be out here with all my friends and people is the best.”

Seventh-grader Gabe Panah showed his enthusiasm for continuing the walk in the future, saying, “I had fun walking with my friends for a good cause.”

A few students were eager to give their somewhat humorous statements on the walk’s positive impact. Viet Zhao, a seventh-grader, mentioned that, “It’s nice for everyone to be out here together, but they should make it a longer walk.”

Encouraging words were shared throughout the duration of the festivities. Sixth-grader Addy Wilson mentioned that she thought the walk was, “A really great way to show our support.”

When asked if schools should continue celebrating inclusion through events like the Unity Walk, Addy had a one word response that spoke for everyone: 



BCA members pose for a picture at CMS Unity Walk
CMS students participate in the Unity Walk
Students pose outside during CMS Unity Walk
Students pose during the Unity Walk at CMS
CE students show off their signs at the Unity Walk
Students show their signs at the Unity Walk in Conshohocken
Students participate in the Unity Walk up Harry Street
The Jackson brothers pose for a picture during the Unity Walk
A PW student gives the thumbs up at the Unity Walk
PW students are all smiles at the Unity Walk
The Step Dance Team performs during an assembly at PW
Cheyenne Cobin poses with members of the Black Cultural Awareness Club
A student walking with a t-shirt that reads The World is Yours
CES students read their poems to each other
CES students show off their %22blackout%22 poems in the hallway
Ridge Park students carry their paper flowers during the Unity Walk
A student carries a sign during the Unity Walk
A student shows off her sign during the Ridge Park Unity Walk