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WMFE highlights the contributions of Black Leaders across Central Florida as part of Black History Month

Windermere Prep student starts first Black Student Union

Carrington Meyer, 14 of Windermere, is a student at Windermere Preparatory School. At the start of the 2023-2024 school year, she started the school's first Black Student Union. She did so after setting up a Black History Month project for WPS's Instagram page last year.
Joe Mario Pedersen
90.7 WMFE News
Carrington Meyer, 14 of Windermere, is a student at Windermere Preparatory School. At the start of the 2023-2024 school year, she started the school's first Black Student Union. She did so after setting up a Black History Month project for WPS's Instagram page last year.

Last year, Carrington Meyer was disappointed her school, Windermere Preparatory School, wasn’t doing more for Black History Month.

"There wasn't anything going on. We would acknowledge that it was Black History Month, but nothing would occur," said Meyer, who was a 13-year-old high school freshman at the time.

That didn't sit well with Meyer. So, she pitched to school leaders a Black History Month project in which she would create 28 Black History Month facts for Windermere’s Instagram page. School administrators green-lit the project.

Meyer kicked it off with this:

“Did you know: Historical Carter G. Woodson is often referred to as the “Father of Black History” as he created BHM. He was the second African American to graduate from Harvard University with a Doctorate Degree, and is credited with being one of the first scholars to study and research the history of African Americans.”

The school saw the social media campaign as successful and valuable. So much so, that they green-lit it again for 2024. This year started off the month with facts about Ruby Bridges and what she did in 1960.

“She was the first Black child to attend an all-white school. She is still alive and turning 70 this year,” Meyer said. “She was one of the first Black children to go to a White school. It was a turning point because she was the first and after her, there were just so many other people. But being the first is just really proving something and showing that it can happen.”

Proving it can be done is now a mantra for the young high schooler. Before the end of last year, the ambitious freshman wanted to continue recognizing the contributions of Black people throughout the year and create a safe space for people who look like her.

So, she pitched another idea, a Black Student Union.

“I think she saw a moment to bridge the gaps. And I felt as though that she was like, Oh, well, this is something that we're missing here,” said Krystle Curling a biology teacher and the Black Student Union’s sponsor.

In the school’s 24-year history, Windermere has never had a BSU, Curling said. The school has large portions of Asian and South American students who have outlets to recognize their heritage.

“No one else came up with the idea like how all the other kids came up with the idea as far as what clubs they wanted. Thankfully, Carrington came up and was like ‘No, we have a piece missing,’” Curling said.

The club started earlier in the school year. Meyer started as its first president. Curling observed the first meeting’s activities and was happy to see students connecting with each other’s heritage – a subject that usually doesn’t come up in the day-to-day activities while students juggle classes, sports, jobs, and other extracurriculars, Curling said.

“We had some people with cultural ties and were able to identify with the transatlantic slave trade and how we had slaves from Africa come to the Caribbean, or the native Indians who lived in the Caribbean,” she said. “I think that was just a really good and beautiful moment for the kids to find out and identify how they're alike and how they're different.”

The club is made up of a mix of Black students: African American, Afro-Latino, and international students from Africa. Meyer is biracial. Her father is white and Jewish and her mother is Black and Jamaican.

Having skipped a grade in Third Grade, Meyer is one of the youngest students in her class at 14. She’s a huge fan of theater with Little Shop of Horrors being one of her favorite plays. Currently, she’s learning more about coding and computer science with a real interest in video game design.

When she’s not coding or studying Indian mythology – the Ramayana in her theater class – Meyer attends meetings with school administration on behalf of the BSU.

“She is all for it,” said Curling, who receives briefs from Meyer on the meetings. “You don't see that kind of work ethic and maturity until about 11th grade. She’s definitely not the norm.”

Last month, the Black Student Union, which has 12 members, organized a Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Day where students wrote positive affirmations associated with MLK, took the writings, and created a mural, Curling said. This month, Meyer and the union are working to organize time with Windermere’s elementary school children to read them books about Black historical figures such as Ruby Bridges.

Meyer’s parents have history degrees and occasionally schedule museum outings as a family. Her father, Justin, thinks maybe that’s why Meyer has an appreciation for the subject. He’s happy it’s important to her because of the value of history in Florida, where certain books are banned and there are limits on what can be taught when it comes to Black history in schools

Especially in Florida, it matters to recognize Black history. I think she recognizes that this is something that needs to be talked about in the public discussion today,” he said.

Meyer is still organizing Black History Month facts for the rest of the month. One of her most recent posts was about Madam C.J. Walker who “was the first self-made female millionaire. She achieved wealth through hair care and cosmetics products that she created.”

Last year, Meyer closed out her Black History Month facts with this post” “Black history is American history.”

It’s the fact that she hopes sticks with people the most once February is over.

“I hope it has left an imprint on the faculty's minds. So they keep doing things for Black History Month,” she said. “There are just so many things that Black people have done that aren't recognized, and without (Black History Month) happening there's just so many small things or big things that we don't think about that would be gone.”

Originally from South Florida, Joe Mario came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he graduated with degrees in Radio & Television Production, Film, and Psychology. He worked several beats and covered multimedia at The Villages Daily Sun but returned to the City Beautiful as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel where he covered crime, hurricanes, and viral news. Joe Mario has too many interests and not enough time but tries to focus on his love for strange stories in comic books and horror movies. When he's not writing he loves to run in his spare time.
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