BLACK HISTORY: SKEELS & McELRATH
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” (Frederick Douglass) The struggle for people of color across the globe has been a long and continuously fought journey. Today, we highlight one particular struggle that was courageously fought to give predominantly Black communities in Ravenna basic access to water, sewer, electricity, paved roads, and street lights. We are talking about the communities of Skeels and McElrath. At one time, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development rated Skeels and McElrath as the 3rd worst rural ghettos in the United States.
In the 1950s, the land in these areas was considerably cheap. Some lots of land were offered as door prizes at a Cleveland Movie Theatre as an advertising gimmick. News of the availability of land quickly gained the attention of Black people in local inner cities. Those seeking a new home felt that this area would be an escape from the overcrowded cities. However, new residents would face major adversities. But again, “without struggle there is no progress.”
Deseree Mitchell-Liddell, became a longtime resident in the Skeels community and she understood the sentiment of struggle. Like many Black women throughout history, she put the burdens of her community on her back and fought for change. In the 1960s, she organized other residents and started demanding improvement of living conditions. She pressed the Ravenna Township trustees and commissioners to support their struggle. When the people’s calls were not answered, she began to contribute to creating and bringing much needed services to the community. In her own home, she began a youth program and senior citizen club. She would later move these programs into the future Skeels community centers.
The first Skeels community center was built on Arbeco Street. It was a one room structure without plumbing and windows, the absence of furnaced heat, and only one door, but it contained a whole lot of love, perseverance, and commitment. That love, commitment, and perseverance are what is characteristic of Black resilience. And those characteristics were established in both the Skeels and McElrath communities. Today, the progress of both communities can be measured by the elaborate structures of community centers that have multiple rooms which include large kitchens, computer labs, and children’s areas. Instead, we measure it in the lives that have been impacted for the better and always remember those that held us on our shoulders through the struggle.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OUR DISTRICT?
First Round of Covid-19 Vaccinations
The Ravenna School District vaccinated 271 people against the COVID-19 virus this past Friday, February 19th, after school. The collaboration was with the district’s nursing services provider Akron Children’s Hospital. The second round is scheduled for Friday, March 12th after school. The goal is to insure that the district can remain open to service children and families who would like an in person learning option for the remainder of the school year. Pictured is Superintendent Dennis Honkala and Director of Teaching and Learning (K-5) Ben Ribelin registering and checking in staff. In the background is the Akron Children’s Nursing Staff and those who had just received the vaccine.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION PLAN DURING REMOTE LEARNING
We will continue to have food distribution available for ALL Ravenna students every Tuesday. All Ravenna students may receive the Tuesday distributions at the following locations:
Ravenna High School from 2:45 – 3:45 pm
Brown Middle School from 3:30 -4:30 pm
West Main and Willyard Elementary Schools from 4:00 – 5:00 pm.
Please click the link below to view the Ravenna School District Safe Learning plan which outlines our safety interventions and frequently asked questions.
The Ravenna School District Equity and Inclusion Task Force continued to meet in January via Zoom as an extra precaution during the pandemic.
The group began to look at community data and information collected from the November survey. The most significant takeaways from the community survey were the desire for improved and diversified academics and offerings and helping the Ravenna School District and school community develop a sense of belonging.
Staff and parents having honest conversations with children about race was also rated high among community members. The group discussed these findings as well as offered varying opinions on the topic. This meeting also included the second session of the group book study on “White Fragility.”
The next meeting is set for February 18th.
RAVEN REPORT FEBRUARY, 2021 Monthly Notes from Dennis Honkala, Ravenna School District Superintendent Thank you for making the effort to stay informed on what’s happening in the Ravenna School District. Contact me anytime with feedback and questions. My email is at...
Students in Mrs. Schelat's third grade class at West Main Elementary completed research for Black History Month projects and then used the information to create "Who am I?" presentations. These students were great models for the others to see and they were...
As part of Black History Month Ravenna High School was treated to an amazing virtual assembly hosted by Terrence Talley. Terrence spoke to students about adversity and never giving up. His message was powerful and resonated with our students. Some comments...
It's Dr. Seuss' Birthday March 2nd! We are celebrating him all week long!
Spring Picture Day is Coming Soon! Tuesday, March 9th This will also be picture re-take day. If you are having pictures re-taken, please remember to bring in the original package. Order online at inter-state.com/FlyerEntry/57705KF