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The Black Student Union (BSU) is now offering a mentorship program at RCHS, providing mentors to Black students for academic, emotional, and social support.
While distance learning proves its challenges, BSU discovered a way to implement the mentorship program safely and digitally. BSU co-advisor Mrs. Jenna Jemison said that student mentors “will be connecting with their mentees through text messaging, Facetime, and Zoom conferencing.” This will easily provide students with support from an older peer while maintaining distance learning.
This program is crucial for Black students who are struggling at RCHS. In fact, Jemison said, “earlier this year, the African-American Parent Advisory Council at RCHS discussed how our African-American students were not as ready for college and career as their peers in other groups.” Jemison said, “We knew that these statistics were not a reflection of our students’ intelligence or willingness to want to succeed. We know how brilliant these students are. Rather, we identified that some of these students may need social/emotional support, resources, guidance, and the opportunity to feel connected and be successful.”
RCHS senior Brianna Wallace is a member of BSU and a trained BSU mentor. Wallace said, “many African American lower classmen weren’t excelling academically. We wanted to do something about this instead of just letting it pass by, because yes they are doing ok but why not help them to do great.”
And that is exactly what the BSU mentorship program aims to do. According to Jemison, “The BSU mentorship program is a brand new program we are launching this year at RCHS! The goal of the mentorship program is to provide our freshman and sophomore African-American students with mentors.” Jemison said, “current junior or senior students who are leaders on our campus, thrive in the classroom, and have a passion for helping/mentoring others. We match these mentors with students who are in need of support for various reasons (ie academic, social, emotional, etc.).”
While the mentorship program provides this safe space for Black students at Rancho, it also allows Black students to build awareness and education surrounding racial issues and embrace what it means to be Black.
BSU gained a large following after recent social events and the rising racial tension in the country. In such critical times, BSU offers a safe place for Black students at RCHS. Jemison said, “The Black Student Union (BSU) of Rancho Cucamonga High School is committed to intellectual, cultural, social, and ethnic diversity. The BSU’s focus is to build awareness, education, and a new level of consciousness about being an African American in today’s society. We aim to teach others about diversity and show that through engaging in activities focused around acceptance and tolerance, we will get a better understanding of others while learning about ourselves.”
As a student mentor, Wallace strives to “influence the students who aren’t feeling that they can make it through high school and go let them know that every mentor here isn’t here for themselves but for the students. We want them to achieve and excel like we know they can.”
Moreover, Dylan Little, president of BSU, said that the “BSU Mentorship program is a wonderful activity to assist younger Black students in navigating high school life. But at the end of the day, the issues facing Black RCHS students should not be pushed off onto Black students to fix the structural issues that we face here.”
There are also many events planned to celebrate Black History Month. Jemison said, “we have some students who will be participating in a Graf Art workshop at Chaffey College, some students have joined the NCTE African-American Read-in by reading The Hate U Give during the month of February, some students created posters that are being shared to the RCHS community for Black History Month, and other students are starting their first African-American Literature course virtually at Chaffey College. There’s always something happening at BSU.”
With all of these issues on top of distance learning, BSU offers a safe space for Black students, especially after recent events regarding racial and social justice. The new mentorship program provides extra support for struggling students, allows them to communicate with fellow peers, and receives guidance from older students. By restoring inspiration, motivation, and confidence in Black students, RCHS can unite and bring forth change.