Teens: Esosa Aiwuyo, Brittany Alexander, Makyia Banks, Dakota Brown, Craig Ford, Parris Harris, Markese Malone, Denise Perry, Mechelle Rucker, Chalsea Smith, Renita Washington, Khalena Williams
Mentors: Naomi Andu, Andrew Cao, Catlin Chen, Alejandra Fernandez, David Gleisner, Niki Griswold, Courtney Kang, Alexis Lanza, Tori Lee, Jason Mast, Augusta Saraiva, Austin Siegel, Samarth Soni, Heena Srivastava, Adrian Wan, Megan Yee
Facilitators: Alexandria Jacobson, interim director Michael A. Deas, faculty adviser
Chris Krypel, coordinator, Gary Comer Youth Center
By Makyia Banks and Dakota Brown
It has been a hot topic for years on whether or not uniforms are actually needed. Uniforms have known to be effective, but does it really affect the students as much as it does the staff?
“Uniforms are needed to a certain extent,” Aminata Harley, 17, a junior at Gary Comer College Prep. She says that there should be limitations to how far that dress code goes. She feels that it does prevent distractions and conflicts between other students because of what someone has that someone else doesn’t have.
But not everyone is an fan of uniforms.
“It lacks individuality because it doesn’t allow students to express themselves freely,” Harley said. While she said she is neither pro- or anti-uniform, she said she feels as if there should be a limit to how far uniform strips identity.
“It does come in part in having a better learning environment” said Daryl Patteson, an Honors Pre-Calculus teacher at Gary Comer College Prep.
He said he feels that this sets students up for the real world when getting a job.
“It is a part of life. Even people downtown have a dress code,” Patteson said.
This indicates that this isn’t the only time that people are going to tell others what they can and can’t wear. He feels as if it is a good way to start training for the life experiences now rather than later.
Similarly some students, like Juan Gomez and Jeremiah Jones, agree with some teachers when they say it creates a safe environment for the students.
“A school uniform is a way to prevent bullies because not everyone has the same social status,” said Juan Gomez.
What this reveals is that it decreases conflict among the students because they do not have to be worried about what another student does or doesn’t have. They don’t have to be judged by their appearance because everyone is wearing the same thing.
Additionally Jasmine Boyd, an English teacher at Gary Comer College Prep, said that uniforms should be issued within school.
“I agree uniforms should be in school,” Boyd said. “I think it provides a solidarity amongst the students, and it helps to decrease further issues that can come along to physical appearance.”
She express that uniforms helps provide a sense of professionalism. She adds that this is a way to start off creating that guideline to how people present themselves. She said uniforms help set a safe environment and allow students not to be worried about what they have to wear and the trends that they cannot afford to wear.
“If you look like everybody else you’re not being … you,” said Mekari Abernathy, a student at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep. Gwendolyn Brooks is a selective enrollment school and the students don’t wear uniforms there. When asked how they felt about not wearing uniform they all started to talk about freedom of expression and how not wearing uniforms helps the better to express themselves and to feel comfortable. All the students felt as if the schools with uniforms didn’t have better discipline or better structure they just had students who couldn’t fully express who they are.
Schools uniforms can sometimes be uncomfortable. You may have to wear dress shoes, khakis, and have an shirt tucked at all times. At schools that don’t have uniforms, you could wear what you want, so you could come in with jogging pants on and slides, which could make you feel more comfortable and relaxed, which could make you not so stressed.
“Sometimes you want to wear comfortable clothes and sometimes you want to look nice,” said Lemuel Bascombe, a junior at Gwendolyn Brooks. Schools that don’t have uniforms provide freedom to look however you want, and this sometimes helps people perform better when they are comfortable with what they have on, Bascombe said.
Even through non-uniform schools give you this freedom, some people still feel like uniforms would be the best way. William Rodgers, a dean at Gwendolyn Brooks feels as if Brooks should wear uniforms because “…sometimes students wear clothes that aren’t appropriate for a school setting.” Non-uniform schools sometimes still have dress codes, but other times students are allowed to wear whatever they want and these could cause problems in schoo,l resulting in bullying and fighting.
The argument about if students should wear uniforms or not could go on forever because there are pros and cons to both sides. “I think it’s based on what the schools looking for and the students that the school serves,” stated Alexander Kmicikewycz, a STEM teacher at Gwendolyn Brooks. Depending on the administration and the way the student behaves, schools could go either way and it’s not just black and white.
By Esosa Aiwuyo, Cameron Eskridge, Chalsea Smith and Renita Washington
By Esosa Aiwuyo
According to InsideHigherEd, a digital media company, the 1 percent drop was due to undergraduate enrollments, which fell by nearly 224,000, or 1.4 percent.
Graduate and professional programs were up by 24,000 students, according to the research center, which tracks 97 percent of students who attend degree-granting institutions that are eligible to receive federal financial aid.
Also according to InsideHigherEd, this drop in college enrollment has happened for the sixth year in a row, but this is occurring at a slower rate which is good.
Young people are turning to alternatives such as entering the workforce, entering the military or even entering the music industry.
There are a number of reasons that students don’t attend college but here’s the reality that many will only reluctantly admit: There are genuine obstacles—grave circumstances that prevent a student from continuing their education, and then there are excuses; knee-jerk responses that students regurgitate when questioned about their future.
One of the main reasons is that some students just can’t simply afford it. Many high school students today are aware that their parents cannot afford to foot their tuition bill.
Even though this is a common reality for most students, there are a combination of scholarships opportunities, federal aid, student loans and flexible scheduling options make college a reality for students who are determined to obtain a degree.
By Brittany Alexander
High school is considered one of the many stepping stones toward a higher education. Years of schooling provide the necessary academic skillset to enter college. However, the high school curriculum is not as rigorous as that of a university. Therefore, incoming freshman tend to experience an overwhelming transition from high school to college.
College preparatory and readiness programs often vary at school. The most college match classes offered to students are honor courses or Advanced Placement, commonly referred to as AP. Seldom, students are given the opportunity for dual credit or dual enrollment. This creates a wider gap by allowing a few “capable” students to experience college while other students are left behind. Another factor in ensuring college retention and success is the financial aspect.
Ajee Moore, 18, a current senior at Johnson College Prep, is enrolling in college the summer of 2018. “My school hasn’t really assisted me in preparing for college,” says Moore, who is applying for and securing financial aid.
Moore says she is still “adjusting to the situation” of entering college.
According to the Illinois State Policy, the education system is adequately funded, well above the nation’s average, but it’s distribution has many “loopholes.” Illinois’ general state aid, or GSA, appropriated funds of $4.8 billion to schools in need.
According to Illinois Policy, “Illinoisans aren’t seeing a return on this major investment.” Test scores and academic performance fall behind the national average. Data published by the Chicago Tribune show that out of 482 of 666 Illinois high schools, more than half of graduates were unable to reach above the national average for the ACT.
“Illinois’ SAT average would also put the state in the middle of the pack — around the 50th to 52nd percentile — based on a national sample”, the Tribune published on Oct. 31, 2017. The same source states that there has been a “gain of more than 16 percentage points,” in graduation rates.
Overall, all schools–charter, Noble and public–have seen a slight gain in high school retention and graduation rates. For example, Perspectives High of School of Technology, Johnson College Prep, Gary Comer College Prep and King College Prep, range from 73 to 81 percent in average graduation rates, with a gain ranging from 1 to 8 percent. Improvements in graduation rates mask discrepancies in individualized college readiness and preparation.
Chicago’s graduation trend has improved but overall the state is below national average attributes to the greater disparity between state funding versus outcomes.
By Markese Malone
Johnson College Prep’s demerit system has sparked tension between students and teachers. Although some claim that the system is not detrimental to the social environment and that the structure is necessary, many staff and students agree that the school’s structure has created a power struggle, as well as unhappiness among the students.
“The way I’ve seen our disciplinary system not work effectively are teachers falling back on demerits as being the only way to control a classroom or suspensions or removals instead of building an effective culture in a space where kids feel empowered and respected,” said Alicen Buder, a 10th-grade chemistry teacher at the South Side high school, which is a part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools.
Often times, students say they are aware of this power struggle and it leads to a lack of respect as well as a lack of personal connections between students and teachers. They add this lack of a respectful relationship then affects the classroom environment that directly impacts the students’ education.
“I feel like the teachers and the staff here use their power and authority a little too much and take advantage of it, which leaves the kids here powerless,” said Ronnie Williams, a 12th-grade student at Johnson College Prep.
According to students, like Donald Emory, they’ve become unsatisfied with their school environment. Students say they often dread attending school daily due to the fear of getting disciplined. Many think satisfaction of school environments often has a correlational relationship with performance.
“The disciplinary system keeps the students down because demerits and detentions keep you from expressing yourself as much as in other schools,” the Johnson College Prep senior said.
Nonetheless, others at the school say that the Noble Network, which serves 11,000 students from more than 70 Chicago communities, is a positive thing and has no impact on the school’s social environment. Some students say they are completely satisfied with the school system and enjoy attending school daily.
“Noble schools keep their students very disciplined but regular CPS schools are very chaotic, said Keivonta Tabor, a senior. “This disciplinary system affects the school in a good way because this discipline translates inside and outside of school.”
Research has shown that African-American men are more likely to see their electricity cut, more likely to be sued over a debt, and more likely to land in jail because of a parking ticket according to The New York Times.
There also have been studies that show the success rate of African-American men has increased over the past few years. Demetrius Underwood and Tracy Brown reflect that. They have experienced hardships that have made them want to quit; however, they persevered through it all and now are reaping the benefits.
Demetrius Underwood, 18, will be attending Morehouse College in the fall of 2018 pursuing a bachelor in political science. Underwood attends Gary Comer College Prep where he is a senior. He is the senior class president, vice president of STEM Honors, a part of the Film Club and Debate Team, and serves on the board of the National Honor Society at school.
Underwood has published his very own documentary, “Black Boy Joy” where he spoke on toxic masculinity in the black community that prohibits black men from expressing their personal masculinity. However, before Underwood could experience this amount of success he had to overcome a few obstacles that stood in his way.
“Despite obstacles such as epilepsy, adoption and suicidal problems of being a carefree black men, I’ve basically found my way and created my own American Dream to be successful,” Underwood said.
He added that he understood that he could not withstand these trails with a strong support system. Underwood says, “I had to motivate myself along with my friends and family who have supported and watched me defeat the circumstances that were expected for my life by enemies in society”.
These enemies whom Underwood speaks about are stereotypes that he feels were placed on him at an early age. Underwood has experienced racism in professional environments that have made him uncomfortable. Through all of things Underwood had to endure, he is still optimistic about his future in which he feels he can “make a big impact on the world where I can give people the perspective that I live in.”
According to Underwood, he has overcome his struggles because he has heard a moving story of triumph with motivated him. That story was that of Tracy Brown who is an educator at Gary Comer College Prep, a student at Concordia University receiving his Ph.D. in the fall of 2020, and a pioneer in the Chicago community. Brown grew up in the UIC Tri-Taylor Community Projects.
At a young age, Brown says he was already labeled with racist stereotypes of being ‘lazy, uneducated, and unmotivated.” Brown says “growing up in Chicago was hard enough especially in a low-income neighborhood, poverty.”
School is supposed to be an outlet for students to escape the issues of the outside world, but for Brown, who says: “barely graduated from high school with a 1.8 GPA and 16 on the ACT,” it was not. The area where Brown grew up put things into perspective for him as many people told him that college was not an option based on his scores and grades.
“Growing up in housing projects across from a world class university puts a lot of stuff into perspective,” Brown says. “It humbles you. It makes you hungry and eager to get out of the box and prove your doubters”
And this is exactly what he did. Brown says he was motivated by “My family. My upbringing. The people who said I would end up like my father. My mentor, Dr. Collins. My grandmother.”
Brown’s motivations pushed him to get a bachelor’s in psychology in 2013, along with two master’s concurrently 2016 in both special education and bilingual education.
Brown says that even though he has accomplished a lot in his life, he still has goals that he wants to check off. He says that a few of his goals that he want to achieve while he is still alive is having a big family with a loving wife along with expanding his business in China and hopefully to Dubai or China.
Since she was a little girl growing up in Thiensville, Wis., Callie Counsellor has always known that she loved to write stories, but didn’t know this passion was going to take her to be the producer she is now.
She didn’t even know she wanted to work in journalism until she went to Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin where they had a journalism class. In the class she realized that not only could she write stories of her own, but that she could write other people’s stories.
When she graduated from Homestead people were telling her that Northwestern had an great journalism program that she should look into if she wanted to go into journalism. Once she looked into it, off to Northwestern she went.
Counsellor knew that she was going to Northwestern for journalism, but she didn’t know until her junior year that she was wanted to do broadcast journalism. In her junior year at Northwestern, she had to pick a track so she either had to pick broadcast, print/online, magazine, or public relations journalism. She studied online/print already and wanted to try something else. She had a broadcast class before and liked it, so she pursued this track.
She got a internship as a writer at WGN and liked the quick pace of broadcast news. Throughout her career, Counsellor said the lesson that has stood out the most to her was to be a good listener.
“… Starting off as a journalist you get really caught up in asking the right questions and taking everything in, but I think it’s really important to let the person you’re interviewing guide you to where their trying to go and listen to what they’re saying and listen to their story because everyone has something so important to say.”
While she was a student at Northwestern, Counsellor became a mentor for Medill Media Teens. “I think that’s the coolest thing about Medill Media Teens is you really get to build a great bond between the mentors and the students, and it extends beyond those Saturday morning.”
Counsellor said she had so many mentors throughout her life who helped her get to where she is now, and she wanted to be that mentor for someone, and Medill gave her a chance to do that.
After graduating from Northwestern in 2015, she took an year and taught English in an little town in southern France.
“That was actually really important I think because being a journalist you’re going to be exposed to a lot of people who are different from you and who have different upbringings, different cultures, different experiences … I think it is so important to be comfortable in that situation as an journalist,” Counsellor said.
She is now a TV News Producer in South Bend, Indiana. She picks stories from local and national news for her newscast and she writes these stories for the 5 o’clock news anchors. Her job is also to talk to the anchors to let them know if there are any changes, talking to the reporters to make sure their mics work and making sure they know when they are up next and making sure the whole show runs smoothly.
Counsellor likes the job she has now, but she said she wants to do more documentaries because she misses interviewing people and digging deep into stories, instead of the quick segments the news has.
She said that her advice to anyone going to college for journalism or going to college in general is to be open to new experiences and understand that you will not like everything you do, but you will also learn how strong and independent you really are, so don’t give up.
By Mechelle Rucker
Before Dana Getz went to Northwestern University, she lived in St. Joseph, Michigan. Getz has five siblings, one of them being her twin brother, and she is 25 years old. Getz’s high school math teacher helped her class with a project about college to help her find out where she wanted to go.
“I knew that I didn’t want to go that far from home and I knew that I really liked journalism,” Getz said, adding that her math teacher told her about Northwestern and she quickly became very interested in it. “ Its only two hours away from home” Getz exclaimed. That’s when she knew that it was the perfect match for her.
While attending Northwestern, Getz involved herself in Medill Media Teens because she was trying to step out of her comfort zone. She also was enthused to take opportunities that came to her, and she was very happy to see teens learning something new and taking interest in journalism.
“ Medill Media Teens was a great experience for me”, Getz said, adding that the kids caught on to things fast and they made their top quality and they had fun while doing it.
Getz graduated from Northwestern in 2015. After graduation, Getz moved to Brooklyn, New York. She had several jobs and she had different internships, all pertaining to journalism.
In February 2018, Getz got a full time job at Pop Crush.
“This is probably my biggest accomplishment since graduation along with writing long form essays for Pop Crush.” Getz said.
Getz said some advice that she would offer those attending college is to be open-minded and be willing to grow. “Growing up I wish somebody would have told me to be a child while I can and that its nothing wrong with hold on to my youth” Getz said, adding that “I should put myself out in the world as much as I can and share my ideas freely.”
By Mechelle Rucker
Carlin McCarthy, a former Northwestern student and Medill Media Teen mentor, was born and raised in Connecticut where she spent her childhood until she embarked on a journey to college. McCarthy said she initially had plans to be a journalist, so in her opinion she went to “Northwestern because it was the best journalism school in the country.”
McCarthy says her time at Northwestern University taught her many lessons that she uses to this day. McCarthy says, “Northwestern has taught me how to flexible in what I want my careers goal to be, flexible in who I think I am as a person, flexible in understanding how other people operate and being able to take a step back and think about how other are feeling and take that into account”.
Being a college student and committing to other programs such as Medill Media Teens, McCarthy was successful in doing both. She said she became a mentor her freshman year when she wanted to get involved in a volunteer organization.
“I really loved the students I was working with,” McCarthy says. “They were super passionate really smart really driven students.”
Throughout her time spent with Medill Media teens, she said she developed many close bonds with her teens and knew them on a personally level in which she says “kept me coming back to be a part of the Scooby Doo Gang”. McCarthy love from Medill carried over into her community at Northwestern. She used to teach in summer at Northwestern University where she said “ I love to teach”.
McCarthy is now an employer at Buzzfeed where she works with the video production department assisting with logistic and video development. Right in her career field, she has the opportunity do what she love which is digital video every day. McCarthy said Northwestern helped her find her passion and helped her become successful.