Hundreds of students, families and staff members from throughout the Long Beach Unified School District attended the first-ever Black Student Achievement Initiative Symposium last Saturday at Jordan High School.
The Initiative is part of LBUSD’s concerted efforts to promote excellence and equity, especially for students who for a variety of reasons may need extra support to succeed. Saturday’s event, themed "Cultivating Excellence," was the Initiative’s first major event, a milestone that parents recognized.
“I came away empowered. I came away educated. I came away encouraged, to let my daughter know it’s OK to be who she is, as a unique person, and that her heritage means something to her,” LBUSD parent and event attendee Tomeka said. “I so appreciate the Long Beach Unified School District for hosting this symposium, because it meant the world to me.”
The event kicked off with a welcome from LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker and featured inspiring guest speakers, resource tables staffed by community partners, lunch and breakout sessions for parents and students.
Keynoting the event was Pedro Noguera, who is the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. During his talk titled, “Making Black Student Success the Norm: What Parents Can Do to Foster Academic Excellence,” he discussed the importance of parents engaging with each other and schools.
Also among the speakers was author and education advocate Tommie Mabry, who addressed the experiences and challenges that minority students face in communities and educational environments.
Breakout sessions centered around themes of academic support, engagement and voice, and social emotional wellbeing. A discussion panel on social emotional wellbeing was moderated by Erin Simon, LBUSD assistant superintendent for School Support Services.
Students interacted with various guest speakers as well as current students and alumni of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), discussing how to overcome challenges on the path to an education.