Four student summits held at Evanston Township high School over the past year attracted students of different affinity groups: black, Middle-Eastern and Asian, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ students.

In a June 10 memo, Marcus Campbell, Assistant Superintendent/ Principal andLauren Hamilton, Equity Analyst said these “affinity-based student summits” were “part of the ETHS Social Consciousness Series.”

At the June 10 District 202 School Board meeting, ETHS Assistant Superintendent/Principal Marcus Campbell described the purpose of the summits.

All the summits were aligned with ETHS’s “Year of the Black Male,” Dr. Campbell said, “as they are part of the adaptive work being done to create spaces where students feel valued and heard. … Summits center on student voices, and students are involved in the programming.”

He told the Board members, “We’ve never had a year like this with our social-consciousness programming.” This year, the sixth of such programming at the high school, more professional development was offered to staff through workshops, etc.

The programs are designed to “highlight various social constructs that we all engage in and adhere to regarding gender, race and a number of other things,” Dr. Campbell said. The aim is to make students “more thoughtful, reflective and conscious about the things that are leading and guiding us. … The summits provide the opportunity for students to connect with themselves and each other through reflection and identity exploration.

“The professional development for staff members that center on conversations on race and the historic presence of racism within education.” The high school also held a parent summit this year.

In conjunction with some of the summits, the high school offers “special events open to the Evanston community that everyone participates in to engage in critical thought about the racialized experience and its relation to the systemic oppression rooted in anti-blackness,” according to Dr. Campbell’s presentation.

Nearly 700 students attended the Black Student Summit, “Descended from Greatness – Black, Bold and Brilliant.”

The Asian and Middle Eastern Student Summit, “We Are the Leaders We’ve Been Looking For,” attracted 139 students. The theme of the LGBTQ+ Summit was “Finding the I in Identity- Finding U in Us.” That summit drew 229 students.

Nearly 300 students attended the Latinx Summit, “La Lucia Sigue! Con Ganas, We Can, Con Ganas, We Will.”

Dr. Campbell said the summits support the academic and social-emotional learning of all ETHS students.

“Many of our students who felt unseen now felt seen and heard and validated and that we are creating a safe space for them,” he said.

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...