This year, a new club was founded at IDEA Allan College Preparatory. It’s the first of its kind at IDEA, but club members suspect it will catch on across the Team & Family.
It’s called the “Black Student Alliance.” The purpose? Club member and IDEA Allan 11th grader Jacque’lynn Walker said it best:
“Black Student Alliance (BSA) allows students to hold onto cultural experiences and take on new ideas to create better opportunities. The club allows us to express our voices with others, in hope to obtain a larger insight on African-American culture.”
In the BSA, hour-and-a-half meetings occur every other Monday, grounded in dialogue around a wide variety of topics. “Our first topic was Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said Shinead Washington, Math Interventionist Teacher and Club Founder. “We started there because my students didn’t know what they were, nor their importance in American history.” Later this year, Shinead, other staff members, and club members plan to visit several Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Jackson State University, Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, Southern University, and Prairie View A&M.
Jacque’lynn, who aspires to be a pediatric nurse, noted that Spelman College is her top college choice at the moment. She is very excited to tour the campus before officially sending in her application.
Fellow club member and 8th grader Sean Wilson noted:
“Every college visit, whether it’s through the club or the other college field lessons we go on as a whole grade level, get me in the mode of being a student at a university. I have a very good understanding of what it’s going to take to achieve my goal of a college degree.”
Sean, a basketball player, runner, and violinist for the IDEA Allan Bulldogs, is proud to be part of a school district that has achieved 100% college acceptance for its seniors for 11 years in a row. In 2022, Sean will follow in the footsteps of IDEA alumni and attend college in hopes to become a physical therapist.
In addition to exploring diverse college options, Sean, Jacque’lynn and the rest of the BSA members discuss current events, and participate in book chats. Recently, BSA members have been discussing the terrific book, Between The World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
At its core, the BSA is a place to engage in conversation about race and culture in school, and in society. “It’s a safe place to talk about my experiences and my diversity,” said Skyla Spence, BSA member and 8th grader. “It’s also a place to see how members can help each other.”
When asked about the fact that the Black Student Alliance is open to all ethnicities, Sean, Jacque’lynn, and Skyla all noted that openness leads to learning and a better understanding of different experiences.
“I think the club gives others a chance to understand what other students are going through, specifically black students,” said Sean. “This program has helped me express my feelings. I myself am biracial, and it helps me understand my African-American side as much as my Hispanic side.”
On the eve of Black History Month, club founder Shinead Washington noted that her students are gearing up to lead the morning announcements for the month of February, sharing important facts about Black history, and highlighting African-American figures who have made an impact on society. They’re currently in discussions around what project they want to pursue for the month of February, but hope to gear it around community service.
When asked if the Black Student Alliance plans to continue into next year, Shinead and her students replied with a big smile and a hearty “yes!”
Great things are happening in the BSA at IDEA Allan College Preparatory. Way to go, Bulldogs!