Photo by Drew Ingall
The Minority Scholars Program (MSP) is in its first full year of implementation at CHS.
They plan to implement new activities aimed at closing the achievement gap at CHS and having a diverse group of people to interact with one another.
“We have a lot of students that come from low income households and don’t have the same advantages as students who come from high income households,” MSP President Khadija Sam-Sumana said. “Once we are able to give students access to some of these resources, it will motivate them to strengthen themselves as students and individuals.”
MSP is a county-wide initiative that started at Walter Johnson HS in 2005, created to balance out the disparity of educational opportunities and achievements between students of different ethnic backgrounds.
“It became very apparent that there was an opportunity gap and a discrepancy of students of color represented in higher levels courses, as well as students of color not achieving at the same level as non-minority/white students,” MSP sponsor and assistant school administrator La Faye Burris said.
Now, it has been implemented at many schools all over the county.
According to Burris, there are “active [MSP] programs in 20 MCPS high schools and three middle schools.”
MSP programs include monthly meetings where students and sponsors work together to come up with ideas and strategies that will address the initiative’s main goals and help towards closing the achievement gap.
According to the MSP website, the program has four key initiatives employed throughout all members school programs: community outreach, peer to peer tutoring/mentoring programs, college visits and a speaker series.
One of the new activities that MSP is hoping to bring to Churchill is Jam Sessions. This activity will serve as an extra academic help session for minorities, but will also include social activities and more.
According to Sam-Sumana, the Jam Sessions will serve as a “study hall that would take place twice a week and would provide chromebooks, teachers, peer to peer tutoring and snacks to students.”
The program is also planning on organizing school-wide activities, such as study circles, workshops, public speakers and SSL opportunities to peer mentor students at Cabin John Middle School.
“This will give the middle schoolers an opportunity to know the opportunities they have as a student and in life as well as build their motivation to do their best academically at an early age,” Sam-Sumana said.
Although the program is mainly working towards the goals of improving opportunities for minorities at CHS, all students of any ethnicity are welcome to join and help the cause.
“MSP at Churchill is [about] creating a community where all students feel they belong and can succeed academically, emotionally and socially,” Burris said. “All CHS students are welcome to attend to specifically focus on supporting students of color and creating an environment that is welcoming and supportive.”