Germantown Academy was pleased to welcome New York Times best-selling author Tami Charles on Wednesday, February 15 for a full day of student assemblies, Q&A sessions, dinner, and a community presentation where she discussed her life and her books, Like Vanessa, Muted, All Because You Matter, and more in celebration of Black History Month.
“What a great day to be at GA,” said Head of School Rich Schellhas 1760, who spearheaded the celebration. “A large group of faculty and students made the events of the day informative and entertaining. Tami Charles was a great orator, sharing her personal and professional life with all of our faculty, students, and parents, and I could not have been more proud of the way our students interacted with her throughout the day.”
Librarians Sarah Kebaugh and Mary Fraser led lively reading groups with MS and US student volunteers who then served as interview panelists during the MS/US/Evening assemblies, while Sarah Letts led the assemblies for our Lower School students.
GA’s Lower School students read Ms. Charles’ All Because You Matter to prepare for her visit. Ms. Charles was excited and surprised by the level of interest students showed during the Q&A session after she discussed the book, especially when Zach F. ’35 told her that “her writing opened a whole new world to him,” which really moved her.
Middle School panelists, Ariana Dai ’27, Brooklyn Diener ’27, Andrew Hall ’27, Kyiah Jefferson ’27, Dahlia Kaplan ’27, Mallea Kelly ’27, Joanna Owens ’27, Jill Patel ’27, Natalie Rivers ’27 and Kaylin Trent ’27 led the presentation of Ms. Charles’ book, Like Vanessa. Her reading of certain passages to the MS students allowed them to think deeper about the tone and text in the book and was followed by a great Q&A session. Ms. Charles’ presentation at the Upper School assembly featured panelists Adhi Gadre ’23, Emily Spillane ’23, Briana Geist ’24, Farihah Kemp ’25, and Saloni Bhatia ’24 who asked questions of the writer and her book Muted.
GA’s annual Black History Month celebration concluded the day’s events. More than 150 community members gathered in the Dining Room for an evening hosted by the Black Student Alliance and The Diversity and Community Life Coordinators. Following dinner, student speakers Roman Payne ’30, Imani Lindsay '28, Mallea, and Tripp Capers ’24 read original and their own inspired works to the group before Carol D. Peery Ayers 1760, BSA Advisor, DCLC led the crowd in the singing of Black National Anthem — “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
The group then headed to Ms. Charles’ last presentation of the evening in the Honickman Auditorium. Senior Aja McBride ’23, co-president of the BSA, introduced the evening's speaker with an extensive biography, noting her educational beginnings, life events, and several of her books. Ms. Charles then brought up Amelia A.’31 to say thank you to her mother, Michelle, who helped to bring her to GA for the day, as they have known each other for a very long time. Student panelists Raina Bandekar ’23, Kendall Bennett ’23, Taryn DiFranco ’25, Andrew, Mallea, and Farihah led the “Oprah-style” interview to end the evening, asking questions ranging from how being a teacher and one-time R&B artist led her to a career in writing to how does one become a published author?
GA sends a huge THANK YOU to Ms. Charles for her participation in our Black History Month celebration! CLICK HERE for the photo gallery of the day.