Black Teen Summit Unites Students
Byline: Ashok Selvam
Black suburban high school students are often ignored, Palatine High School teacher Asa Gordon says.
The social studies teacher at Palatine, where about 5 percent of the 2,500 students are black, says that, without much of a support network, they can feel isolated and don't receive the proper encouragement to participate in extracurricular activities.
"As those students get more involved, then you can have faculty and sponsors who can connect with the kids outside of the classroom," Gordon said.
Building up a support network is one of the goals of today's Black Teen Summit taking place at Harper College in Palatine. The annual event brings hundreds of students from 18 area high schools.
"We've gone from 76 students to almost 300 in the six years," said event coordinator Ruth Soil, a counselor at Maine East High School in Park Ridge.
Gordon will bring about 20 freshmen and sophomores. Besides having at least a C grade average, he requires them to dress professionally. He says he wants his students to stick out by portraying a positive image for the college admission officers who will speak to the students.
Officials from schools including Bradley University, DeVry University and University of Illinois at Chicago will be present, along with a panel of black professionals.
Among the topics to be addressed are financial aid for college, career advice and grades, along with issues like discrimination.
Palatine senior Kenisha Davis said programs like the summit show students like her that blacks can be successful after graduation. She's set to attend Eastern Illinois University in the fall.
One topic likely to come up, organizers say, is what makes a student "black enough. …