STUDENTS | February 3, 2022
February is Black History Month, a time to honor the Black heroes of the past and uplift those who will leave their mark in the future. At Shoesmith Elementary School in Kenwood, sixth-grade student Ophelia explains that this time of the year is always a celebration. It’s a time to learn about past leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Ida B. Wells.
Ophelia looks up to Malcolm X as another Black hero who inspires her. And she also knows that heroes don’t always have to be famous figures. She’s just as inspired by her mom, especially her commitment to helping Ophelia study for tests and prepare for the future. The studying has certainly paid off as Ophelia has become one of Shoesmith’s top students academically. Get to know her more below.
What are you known for at Shoesmith? How would your peers and teachers describe you?
I’ve been described by my teachers as being exceptional. I think that’s because I always follow the rules and stay out of fights and arguments. I’m known for skipping fourth grade. I was able to do that by practicing a lot. When the teacher would give us an assignment, I would make sure to practice it at home so I would be prepared.
What are your interests both inside and outside of the classroom?
I really enjoy reading, but I’m also really good at math. I’m in Battle of the Books and even started the book list early. Outside of school, I’m interested in fencing, sailing, and soccer. I like those sports because not many people do them.
How have you grown at Shoesmith?
I’ve been at Shoesmith since kindergarten, and, at first, I was really shy. I didn’t want to talk in class or discuss anything with my peers, but now my hand is always raised, and I’m always ready to talk about whatever topic we’re discussing.
Shoesmith is a K-6 school, so I’ll be attending a new school next year. I can tell I’ve grown because I feel prepared for next year. The teachers here do a great job previewing what’s to come so you won’t be behind when you go to your new school.
What advice would you give to a new student at Shoesmith?
I would tell them that even though it might seem hard at first, it’s very easy to adapt. You just want to be nice to everyone and build relationships with your teachers. I’d also recommend practicing your work at home and making a schedule to find time to do your homework.
Are there any teachers who you’ve built an especially close relationship with?
Definitely Ms. Hoover, who has been my science teacher since fourth grade. Right now, we’re learning about the immune system in her class. I actually learned she was going to be my teacher because my brother went to pre-k with her son.
I also really like Ms. Schnall. I have her for P.E. and health. I like her because she knows how to teach all ages. She can teach kindergartners, and then she can also teach sixth graders and it’s still fun.
What are some of your favorite memories from elementary school?
There are so many. I loved my kindergarten graduation. We got to perform a little play called “The Mixed-Up Alphabet” and sing songs. We also have the Penny Wars, where we all put money in big jars to support a charitable cause, and the classroom that puts in the most money gets a party. I also really enjoyed experiencing the science fair. I remember one student put a balloon over a water bottle, and whatever was in the bottle filled up the balloon.
If you could describe your Shoesmith experience in one word, what would it be and why?
It’s more of a phrase, but I would say: “Really long but really short at the same time.” The school years themselves go by really fast. But, when I think back to my first day of kindergarten, it feels like so long ago.