West Virginians Encouraged to Celebrate Diversity and Heritage

August 25, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – In honor of a noble West Virginian, the West Virginia Legislature declared August 26th “Katherine Johnson Day.” Katherine Johnson, a well-known physicist and mathematician, will be recognized statewide on her birthday with an annual day in her honor. Known for her contributions to America's space program and helping to break down race and gender barriers, her story was chronicled in the 2016 movie 'Hidden Figures.'

In honor of Katherine Johnson, and all amazing, diverse and innovative West Virginians, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is launching a social media campaign encouraging all West Virginians to share their family’s story, why they are proud to be a West Virginian and what makes the Mountain State unique. Participants are asked to use the hashtag, #IAmWV.

“Katherine Johnson is an inspiration to us all, and particularly our students,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine. “She is an example of what great things can be accomplished by working hard and following your dreams.”

Johnson was born in Greenbrier County and attended West Virginia State University after graduating high school at 14. She contributed to the Apollo 11 flight to the Moon along with other NASA missions. She was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

The social media campaign will end on September 15, 2017 at the conclusion of “Celebrate Freedom Week,” which was created under House Bill 3080 during the 2017 Legislative Session. During Celebrate Freedom Week, West Virginia schools will educate students about the sacrifices made for freedom in the founding of the United States and the values on which it was founded. Students will receive three hours of instruction surrounding the intent, meaning and importance of the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The WVDE is asking West Virginians to reflect and share their personal stories in honor of these two historic dates.

“I encourage all West Virginians to take part in this campaign and tell the world why its people and their stories are what makes West Virginia so special,” Paine said.

Visit this link for more details on the campaign: http://static.k12.wv.us/tt/2017/iamwv_flyer_REV.pdf.

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