ETHS students (from left) Raina Foreman, Brianna Starks, Beza Pernecke, Taylor Smith, and Liana Wallace attended the Black Female Summit at ETHS.

Evanston Township High School hosted its first r Black Female Summit on Sept. 29 and its second Black Male Summit on Oct. 1. With the success of the first Black Male Summit in 2014, ETHS launched a Social Consciousness Series as part of its continued commitment to supporting the academic success and well-being of all students. The fall summits focused on the unique yet diverse lived experiences of students who identify as black women and black men.

Nearly 1,000 students in all grade levels participated in the summits which included networking activities, breakout sessions, and panel discussions. School and community members shared experiences and reflections in an effort to connect students with resources and support their individual growth.

“The Black Female and Black Male Summits at ETHS have helped educators and community members recognize the challenges and triumphs that our students experience every day,” said ETHS Assistant Superintendent and Principal Marcus Campbell. “We look forward to continuing these important conversations as part of the ETHS Social Consciousness Series, which give all of us an opportunity to better understand the perspectives of others and strengthen our learning community.”

Mr. Campbell and ETHS District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon each gave remarks at both summits. Speakers at the events included Phyllis L. Clark, Harry Lennix, Toby Sanders, Mr. Campbell, ETHS Superintendent Eric Witherspoon and ETHS students.

Summit participants heard messages of  self-awareness and affirmation throughout the day and were encouraged to connect with each other and be inspired by their efforts.  “Nothing that anybody says from up here can make half the difference that you can make for each other,” Mr. Sanders said.

“Our students came prepared to learn, prepared to participate, prepared to engage in the activities and to reflect on the messages and the discussions,” said Dr. Witherspoon. “I am so thankful that ETHS can provide our students with affinity group experiences and a safe space to think, to question, to have personal reactions and to lead. … I have learned so much from our students.”