Students attend annual Minority Students Achievement Network conference



Paul Miller-Schmidt, Opinions Writing Editor

From Oct. 12-16, a group of 11 students from the high school went to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to attend the yearly Minority Students Achievement Network conference (MSAN).

According to junior Yama Estime, the participants collaborated with students from all over the nation, saw motivational speakers, visited colleges and worked on an action plan to combat inequality at the high school.

“Our purpose for going was tackling disparities and problems involving the achievement gap between minority students and other students,” junior Salam Kasu said. “And the disparity is not only about achievement, it’s about discipline as well.”

After flying in, the students got oriented and had the chance to interact with similar students from schools all across the country, Estime said.

“A lot of the schools had similarities towards us and I personally thought it was just amazing because I could relate to that,” Estime said.

The second day they visited colleges and got to see what college life was like for specific minority students, senior Angelica Woodson said.

“There was an African American student who was there, so he was able to tell us about his experience,” Woodson said. “He talked about some issues the school had relating to race.”

According to Woodson, on the third day they listened to motivational speakers who spoke about their experiences surrounding the achievement gap. There was one speaker in particular that moved the room, which enhanced the experience, she said.

“I don’t think there is one person who was not crying in that room,” Woodson said.

The fourth day was focused on developing an action plan that the students would bring back to the high school to see change in the achievement gap, Estime said. The students piled through MCAS and AP data from the high school and made plans on how to correct some of the disparities, she said.

“We saw that there were more minority students who didn’t succeed in those areas compared to Asians or Multicultural student or white students,” Estime said. “So we basically want to incorporate the data into the curriculum.”

According to Kasu, the students are arranging an organization of support and are working to hold an assembly about their findings.

They are also working to reach out the the administration and see what systematic change is possible, Estime said.

According to Woodson, the conference was extremely impactful and the students learned a lot about themselves, the high school and their national peers.

“I think it was life-changing,” Woodson said. “I didn’t want to leave.”