Black Teen Summit 2011

May 2011
Maine East - Mr Michael Pressler
Foundation Award - $1000

The Black Teen Summit focuses specifically on African-American students who attend high schools in the north and northwest suburbs. The summit was been held for seven years at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. Beginning in 2010, the Summit is being held at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines. The first Summit took place in May 2003. This years’ Summit was held February 25, 2011 during African-American History Month at Oakton College. Students attended workshops composed of panels of African- American professionals, and workshops composed of college representatives and college students. In the afternoon students have attended workshops that deal with topics such as “Improving Black Student Achievement”, “Coping with Prejudice”, and “Dealing with Peer Pressure”, “Personal Responsibility”, “Racial Language and it’s Effect on Achievement and Self-image”, “Self-stereotyping, and Is Racial identity Important in the Age of Obama.” The topic of this year’s conference was “Still I Rise,” and focused on motivating African-American students to get the most out of their educational experience. An estimated 100 students attended the Summit in 2003, 2004 and 2005. In 2006 there were 225 students in attendance, and 208 students attended the Summit in 2007. A total of 264 students attended the Summit in 2008, and about 240 students attended the Summit in 2009. This year’s summit was attended by about 190 students (Some schools did not attend this year due to budget cuts. Also Harper community college decided to sponsor a similar event for the schools who feed into Harper). The following schools have participated in the Summit: Rolling Meadows High School, Evanston Township High School, Hoffman Estates High School, Maine West High School, Hersey High School, Wheeling High School, Schaumburg High School, Maine East and Maine West High Schools, Palatine High School, Conant High School, Glenbrook South, Prospect High School, Elk Grove, Highland Park High School, Deerfield High School, Oswego High School, Niles North and Niles West High Schools, New Trier High School, and Joliet High School.

Many African-American students feel isolated in predominately white schools. Unfortunately many are also forced to deal with prejudice and racism in these environments. Students need to hear from other black professionals in similar situations in order to learn positive ways of dealing with these issues. Students also need to hear from other black professionals in order to encourage them to pursue careers, and in order to support parents and educational institutions as they stress the importance of academics in achieving ones’ goals. In addition, students also need to hear from college representatives in order to learn and understand the process of applying to, and paying for institutions of higher education, and to hear from college students about their experiences. Finally, studies have shown that African-American students do better in school when they become part of a culture of success (that is when they identify with a group of peers who are achieving academically) that combats negative peer pressure.

The Black Teen Summit strives to address the above concerns by:

         Providing students with information about careers, college and financial aid.

         Providing students with positive role models.

         Giving high school students the opportunity to interact with black college students.

         Encouraging students to work towards academic excellence by demonstrating the correlation between education and financial stability.

         Providing students with a forum in which to discuss contemporary issues with their peers

         Helping to instill in students a sense of pride in their heritage.

         Creating a “culture of success” by having students network with other African- American students who are also achieving academically.

         Supporting families as they encourage their children to achieve.

         Providing a 100.00 scholarships to deserving seniors

The majority of speakers volunteered their time for the 2003 -2011 Teen Summits. The committee is interested in African-American speakers who would be willing to volunteer their time to participate in either the planning of the summit, or who would be willing to be a member of the career panel. There are also opportunities for African-American college students to volunteer to participate on the college student panel.