Elevate: a Discussion Series


Gloria Gaye, Staff Writer

This school year, many students are not feeling heard. Considering this rising trend, CHS administration started a discussion series called, “Elevate.” The series is about lifting up or “elevating” voices who are directly related to the particular topic. 

The first session focused on “the Black Youth experience in the Charlottesville Community.” Students were instructed to walk to different parts of the room with questions relating to the topic such as, “How can the school encourage more black students to take AP and DE courses”, “What can the school do to help families more”, “Describe CHS in one word”, and so on. While the students were answering questions, community and school leaders such as Tanesha Hudson, Wes Bellamy, Dr. Royal Gurley Jr., Rashard Pitt, Denise Johnson, and Michael P. Kochis, as well as student representatives, walked around assisting and engaging with the students who attended. 

“I was very grateful for it,” Jesuan Johnson, a Senior, said of his nomination as a student representative. He goes on to express his gratitude for the nomination, saying, “it allowed me to do something I love, which is advocating for black youth.” When asked if he believes that the school will tackle these responses brought by the students, Johnson says yes but wishes there were more community members that he personally had trust in their problem solving capabilities. Johnson also wished there were “more students in general, especially the ones who had a lot more to say.” 

“I noticed that there were constant desires for students’ voices to be elevated” said by Denise Johnson, our schools Supervisor of Equity and Inclusion as she talks about the starting this discussion series. She mentioned that students were reaching out with concerns, questions and ideas which led her and other leaders in our school to create a space where students’ voices could be raised. Hence the discussion series being called Elevate, “the goal for the series is to have a discussion once a month or more if the students or community members feel that it’s necessary.” The fact that this is student-centered was heavily emphasized during Ms. Johnson’s interview, and I think CHS students should take advantage of these discussions to finally have their voices heard. Denise Johnson said we were once a family and it’s important that we get back to that, she continued 

The next discussion series, Supporting The LGBTQ+ Community, will take place on Wednesday, April 19 during BKT. Would you like to suggest a different topic or a different student group for us to highlight? Fill out this google form!