NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Central Arkansas schools learned all about black history this month, but they’re not reading out of a textbook. Schools found new ways to appeal to today’s students.

For the first time, students at North Little Rock Middle School participated in a door decorating contest. The teacher who started it all said it’s a great way for students to learn about Black history.

“Oh my gosh, it was so exciting," social studies teacher Capri Salaam said. "For two weeks we saw kids out in the hallways, they were brainstorming, they were discussing.” 

With music, tissue paper, and markers, North Little Rock Middle School students decorated classroom doors to reflect black history.

“I think it’s important that we have a conversation just to bring awareness to the month and to get them excited we throw in the competition,” Salaam said.

The new activity allowed students to learn new things during black history month.

“I think it helps show diversity, pride, and equality,” student Thanh Mai said.

Many enjoyed the chance to express themselves.

“We made it more creative by adding music,” Mai said.

Some focused on historical events that happened close to home.

“We decided to do desegregation in public schools and so we decided to do the Little Rock nine,” student Nevaeh McFelson said.

One of the award-winning doors featured a cardboard cutout of Central High School and Daisy Bates.

“My favorite thing was all of my classmates working together and learning about the little rock nine,” McFelson said.

Meanwhile, at Central High students prepared for the annual Black History Program.

“This year we’re going to focus on the first African Americans to integrate different areas at Central,” English teacher Nicole Smith said.

On Thursday, Feb. 21 they’ll perform for family night, and on Friday, Feb. 22 they’ll perform for the student body.

“The reality is that African Americans were the first to integrate our school and would not be as diverse as it is now without the contributions,” Smith said.

The performers said it’s important to know where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

“We wanted this dance to showcase the energy and the effort and everything they put into coming here, and being here, and so with those songs it just shows how much power it is in being the Little Rock Nine and being here at Central,” student Cencerity Burton said.

As for the middle schoolers, they’re already looking forward to door decorating in the future.