Sunday, September 23, 2007


Detroit HS tech stars get backers
Principal Patricia Pickett, Superintendant Connie Calloway, Rev. Jesse Jackson. PHOTO BY JACKIE BARBER
Principal Patricia Pickett, Superintendant Connie Calloway, Rev. Jesse Jackson. PHOTO BY JACKIE BARBER

By Eric T. Campbell

The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT - Leaders from the education, faith-based and labor communities came together in front of the Northwestern High School student body Thurs., Sept. 14, to announce the creation of the Northwestern High School Success Project.

The assembly, held in Northwestern�s auditorium was part of the Rainbow/PUSH Third Annual Community Symposium.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams, Detroit Schools Superintendent Connie Calloway and U.S. Representative John Conyers addressed the students.

The "Success Project" was initiated by a partnership of Northwestern Alumni with the Michigan Labor Constituency Council, the UAW, International Union, New Detroit Incorporated and the Rainbow/PUSH coalition.

Honorary Chairs and committee members include a long list of Detroit community leaders and activists. The five-year pilot program seeks to identify specific educational and structural needs at Northwestern and to raise a $500,000 fiduciary fund for the school to "augment their academic program over a five-year period", according to the symposium guide booklet.

The program also stresses the need for "community wide mobilization" to support student's scholastic needs and improve Detroit high school graduation rates.

"They've raised over $90,000 for us to augment our programs, organizations and clubs, to have a holistic approach, a community approach to transforming," Northwestern Principal Patricia Pickett told the Michigan Citizen. "We're going to try and develop a clean, safe learning environment with rigorous instruction. We're all stakeholders, continuously learning."

Northwestern High School was chosen to pilot the program in part because of its potential to incorporate an extended academic structure. The curriculum at Northwestern already includes nine advanced placement classes, four computer laboratories, two libraries and one of the only Planetariums located in a Michigan public school.

Dr. Shedrick Ward is the facilitator of the AIM program at Northwestern, which identifies and nurtures students from the ninth grade on and offers scholastic options based in technological fields.

"To bring the teachers together across areas to perform a unified approach" that's the American transformation of the high schools so that the kids are connected to places like Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, General Motors, who have their challenges in this global network," Dr. Ward told the Michigan Citizen in his office. "But young people still have some responsibility in understanding what that challenge is going to be when they leave high school."

In addition to the morning assembly, the Community Day Symposium also included a luncheon and town hall meeting, at which participants discussed and reviewed elements of the "Success Program".

The day ended with a black tie gala and fundraising dinner at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Keynote speaker Judge Greg Mathis has strong ties to the "Success Program" through his National Youth and Education Crusade, which focuses on issues of crime and education.

But the day was best exemplified by the gathering of the student body in the high school auditorium on Grand Boulevard, during which wisdom was passed from generation to generation in the spirit of community uplift and educational advancement.

"We are now the conscience of this country," congressman and Northwestern High graduate, John Conyers told the listeners. "We are now holding hands with the 6.6 billion people in the world and we can all make a difference."

Keynote speaker Rev. Jesse Jackson paid tribute to Northwestern High and its role, even beyond the neighborhood.

"You have such a sterling history and heritage of impacting our world by lessons taught and learned from this school," Jackson began.

He focused directly on the students in the building and their responsibility to uphold the advancements made by those in the Black community.

"We're going another way, against the odds, we at Northwestern, are going to higher ground," the audience repeated with Jackson. "We shall lift ourselves, and our community, our city, our state, by the power of our minds. We change our minds, and the whole world changes. We must first change our minds to change the world."

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