CONTRIBUTED BY STEPHANIE HUNT
A new school with over 2,000 students. What sports should I join? What clubs are offered? Where can I get help to balance all of my classes? All of these questions run through incoming freshmen’s minds. Fortunately for students of the African American Latino Scholars Program , they have support navigating throughout high school.
The support from the AALSP teachers and students has helped freshmen have a smooth transition to the high school.
The AALSP is a both a class and a program. The seminar meets four times a week during a variety of blocks, where they discuss important issues that may not be discussed in traditional classes. All students in the program have the constant support from AALSP teachers Stephanie Hunt and Oyeshiku Carr.
AALSP Director Stephanie Hunt said that the program differs throughout the grade levels.
“In freshman year, we discuss what it means to be a scholar,” Hunt said. “Depending on what school kids went to, they may or may not understand what Scholars is. We like to have everyone together and create this mentality and definition on what we expect from them.”
They also talk about people of color throughout history and what they have done for the world.
“Our hope is that they feel empowered by these biographies and learning about people like them who might be left out of the history books to show them that they too can affect change, small, local and national,” Hunt said.
Sophomore Noma Medina joined AALSP because she believed it was important for freshmen to have a support system.
“The high school is way bigger, more diverse a lot of opportunities, so Scholars was definitely an option for me, and I am really glad I was able to participate in it,” Medina said.
Hunt also plays a role in helping the students transition from middle school to the high school.
“A big challenge that many students face coming in from middle school is the size of the high school and finding their place, home base and being seen and heard here,” Hunt said.
Hunt also mentioned that if a student does not join in freshman year, they still have the opportunity to join the program as a sophomore, junior or even a senior.
“Maybe middle school was difficult, but you see yourself going in a different path, a different direction,” Hunt said. “If you identify as a scholar, you should reach out to Dr. Carr and me; keep your grades up, keep doing what you’re doing, find us and hopefully join sophomore year.”
Sophomore Lexi Danesco discussed how learning more about her identity has helped her outside of the Scholars Program. For her, one of these empowering experiences was speaking at Asking for Courage Day.
“I gave a speech on Asking for Courage Day and that was a huge deal. In Scholars, we are currently discussing events that have shaped us into who we are,” Danesco said. “That was one of my defining moments because I got to share a very important experience to me.”
Danesco’s choice to give a speech on Asking for Courage Day was only made a week before the event. When racially insensitive videos came out in the fall, she went to Hunt for advice.
“She told me, ‘You know what, you should totally do it.’ It was a really great experience; the support of Scholars made it possible for me to do it,” Danesco said. “Without my classmates in Scholars, I wouldn’t have been able to get up on stage and give my speech.”