The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

Photo Courtesy of Noah Jones

History teacher Alexander Burruss

Bringing Black History to Life

February 8, 2023

While history students learn about many African American leaders, these classes just scratch the surface. Everyone knows about Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, as well as Rosa Parks’ stand for civil rights. However, until recently, FCHS had no class that went in depth into the topic of Black history.

After the riot in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017, efforts were made to change that, and History teacher Alexander Burruss was given the opportunity to teach an African American Studies class. He was ecstatic to do so, as his love for history branches out from Black history. “I want this class to impact students. I want students to gain a deeper understanding and pride in their nation. In the middle of all the mistreatment, there was joy. I want to encourage students to learn more about not only Black history, but the history of all cultures,” he said.

Junior Ryder Petrylak took the class last year. “I was excited. I like Mr. Burruss as a teacher and I took this class so I could get a more in-depth understanding about Black history,” he said, adding, “I would one hundred percent recommend this class. I think it needs to be a core class as it is crucial to American history.” Meanwhile, sophomore Tavin Cook, who is currently taking African American Studies, said he expects to learn a lot from the class. “I can already tell how passionate Mr. Burruss is about this class…Even though we are only a few weeks into the second semester, this class already has an impact on me. I feel like I have gained more information about this history class than history classes I have taken in the past,” he said.

Cook noted that the most impactful part about the class for him so far has been the section on the trans-Atlantic slave trade. “I have learned about this in the past when taking Virginia history, but African American Studies really goes in-depth on what happened,” he said. He added that “Mr. Burruss tries his best to make it enjoyable. He knows that we are not going to learn from just listening to him talk for an hour and a half. Burruss tries to be a friend before a teacher and values every student. That makes the course very enjoyable.”

Burruss tries to cover a range of topics in class. “Not just African American history, but history of all cultures. Just as Spanish is required to pass high school, I feel like the study of different cultures should be required as well. Learning about these different cultures will help make history a more popular class, so people can be represented,” he said.

While Burruss teaches his class through lectures, some students in the class noted that they appreciate how he tries to make it fun by playing learning games with the students and tries to be friendly with them. He is also sharing his passion for Black history by serving as the sponsor of the African American History and Culture Club. Meeting Wednesdays during club times, club members meet to talk about African American history, as well as schedule field trips. Students who are interested in joining the club can see Burruss in Room 4615.

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About the Contributor
Photo of Noah Jones
Noah Jones, Journalist

Noah is in 11th grade. This is his first year in Journalism. He plays soccer and golf. His favorite movie is se7en.

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