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TMA Students Lead 100% Voter Registration Project

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, TMA Social Studies Teacher, Karen Lee, started the first day of her US Government class trying to answer the question: Who votes? Looking at DC and national voting data, Ms. Lee and her students discovered that the lowest DC voter turnout rates occur in wards 7 and 8. The conversation sparked students’ interest in finding out why their community had lower turnout rates. “Voting rights and voter registration has always been important to me and so every student that I have taught has had an opportunity to register to vote through my class.”, says Ms. Lee.

Later in the school year, Ms. Lee and Rebecca Donnelly, another TMA Social Studies Teacher, introduced the When We All Vote Prom Challenge to her AP Government class as an option for their senior Issues to Action Law Component Project. With many students already considering voter registration as their project, this challenge added extra motivation and a chance to win more money for prom. So, AP Government students strategized  various ways to get the school community excited about the June primary and register family members to vote. With the support of school leadership including Mr. Weeden, Mr. Zaki and Mrs. Stewart, students planned a spirit week that highlighted voting and activism and organized a party that included voter registration applications. Students also designed a shirt that represented the power of voting and created a QR code that could be used by a cell phone to connect to the DC voter registration website. In the process, students were able to participate in budget planning for prom by reviewing the current budget, and strategizing how to spend the winnings with help from their peers.

Though COVID-19 presented some challenges, their dedication to their project led to 100% voter registration from the class of 2020 and their teachers. In recognition of their hard work, TMA was 1 of 20 schools to win the When We Vote Prom Challenge. Students were able to virtually meet Michelle Obama as a surprise during the video announcement.

The momentum did not stop there, Ms. Lee was overwhelmed with excitement from students and staff on June 2nd as they participated in voting in the primary. “There is nothing more amazing and hopeful than seeing students excited about using their voices and their power in deciding who would best represent them in elected offices. It is truly taking what they learned in the classroom and putting it into action!” Ms. Lee said. 

TMA also encourages voting and voter registration through our partnership with Mikva Challenge. Throughout the school year, students had hands-on learning experiences with local and national elections. Through the Election in Action Fellowship, students participated in the Iowa caucuses and South Carolina primary events where they canvassed, phone banked, and learned about how campaign offices run. Our student led activist group, Pathways 2 Power, hosted a candidate forum for  at-large and ward 7 and 8 city council races. Ms. Lee said, “Once students get a glimpse of the ways to engage in politics, TMA Warriors always step up to lead our city forward”.

IMG_7717 AP Government created t-shirts with QR codes to help with voter registration.
7EE9A1A2-04CD-4180-9C27-9462634F9F45 Students experience political campaigning.
IMG_0663 Student led organization, Pathways 2 Power.
IMG_6320 Students having fun will encouraging people to vote.

Thurgood Marshall Academy Hosts Largest College Fair to Date

Last week, Thurgood Marshall Academy hosted its 9th annual College Fair, with 95 college representatives in attendance.

Students from area high schools also attended – Cesar Chavez PCS Parkside High, Cesar Chavez PCS – Capitol Hill Campus, Washington Latin Public Charter School, National Collegiate Prep, Maya Angelou Public Charter School, Washington Math Science Technology PCHS, and E.L. Haynes.

Thurgood Marshall Academy is one of the few schools in Southeast, DC that offers a full-service College Counseling Department, dedicated to preparing students for college. Our College and Alumni team gives students the tools they need to find and enroll into colleges that fits their passion and personality.

At the college fair, students met with admissions staff to learn more about the schools they plan to attend, collected pamphlets and other materials that gave them an inside look to the respective school’s college culture.

Ms. Larson, LVC Volunteer in the College Department, said, “The college fair is really important for our students because they not only get the chance to learn about a wide variety of schools, but they also see that there are so many colleges interested in meeting with them.  Events like these are crucial in helping to steer the conversation about access to post-secondary education in the U.S. and help give students the confidence to pursue higher education.”

Thurgood Marshall Academy continues to provide college preparatory resources to students from Wards 7 and 8, by building long-lasting relationships with colleges and universities across the U.S.

 

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Aniyah Fields: Stephen J. Trachtenberg scholarship recipient

On March 7th, before seniors departed for a field trip, they gathered in the gym for what they thought was a regular school announcement, however, turned out to be a big surprise for one of our seniors, Aniyah Fields. GWU’s President, Dr. LeBlanc walked out, along with George the mascot, to announce that one of our very own was a recipient of their Stephen J. Trachtenberg scholarship.

Aniyah became our sixth winner to receive this scholarship to George Washington University, which covers full cost of attendance, and a stipend for her undergraduate career.

Since 1989, George Washington University opened the doors to higher education providing high school students in Washington, D.C. with full-ride scholarships through its Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship (SJT) program.

Students are nominated by their high school counselor, and then they participate in an interview process before being chosen. Recipients are selected based on academic performance, strength of curriculum, leadership qualities, recommendations, and more.

“I nominated Aniyah for the SJT scholarship because she is a bright, talented, and motivated young lady whose humility is as admirable as her work-ethic.  Her commitment to ensuring that students East of the River have access to mentorship and positive role models made her truly a compliment to the mission and purpose of the scholarship.  To me, it was a natural fit and I am glad that the scholarship committee at George Washington University agreed,” said Mr. Mitchell, Director of College and Alumni Programming.

Aniyah’s hard work and determination led her to become one of ten deserving students to receive a full-ride scholarship to George Washington University. “As a recipient of the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg scholarship I feel like a whole new world of opportunity has been made accessible to me. I am ecstatic to see what this newfound experience brings and grateful for the chance to make my dreams a reality!”

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Interschool Seminar: Breaking down barriers through student led discussions

Thurgood Marshall Academy hosted the Interschool Seminar on February 21st. The event, now in its second year, brings DC public, private, and charter high school students together to voice their opinions on issues important to them. TMA students, along with students from Ballou, SEED, Georgetown Day, Sidwell Friends, Burke, and St. Johns, led discussions on current events and social issues.

The event was created by Cosby Hunt, a senior teaching and learning officer at Inspired Teaching who serves on the advisory board of Mikva Challenge. In an article on inspiredteaching.org, he stated his belief “that history is relevant, meaningful, and alive in the minds and imaginations of students today.”

Ms. Lee, Social Studies Teacher, said “the event is also about having students gain a new perspective by engaging with other students they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to talk with to. It’s a way to break down barriers around similarities and differences of their peers.”

The evening began in the school’s library, where students enjoyed pizza and learned about each other’s schools. They then moved to classrooms where students facilitated discussions on the following topics: “Aziz Ansari, Sexual Assault, and Cultural Norms”; “Black Diaspora in US”; “Sex Trafficking”; and “Scientific Racism.”

Menkhuta Whaley, a TMA senior who facilitated the Black Diaspora in US discussion, reflected on her involvement with the event. “What I liked about these discussions is that they were organized and led by students. We chose the topics and we were part of the dialogue.”

Students sign-in for the Interschool Seminar

Celebrating Our Roots 2018: A Salute to Afrofuturism

What can the future look like for African Americans? This, and other questions were explored during this year’s Celebrating Our Roots performance, which focused on Afrofuturism. Celebrating Our Roots is an annual arts, academic, and music showcase at Thurgood Mars

hall Academy, held during February to coincide with Black History Month.

At this year’s event on Saturday February 23rd guests heard from author Bill Campbell who shared his journey as a black science fiction author and explained why Afrofuturism is more important than ever. Then, guests enjoyed interactive demonstrations  that brought the genre to life – a “beauty bar in the year 3000”, with a face-painting station and featuring iconic images of fashion, hair, and makeup; a literary room, where students dressed as characters from novels  of well-known writers in the Afrofuturism genre (Octavia Butler and Nnendi Okorafor); and a social justice room, in which students shared powerful monologues from movements that gained traction on social media with memorable hashtags including #youoksis and #blackgirlmagic.

Celebrating Our Roots showcase ended with a rousing performance from students in the school’s Fashion, Dance, and Music clubs, who modeled outfits representing African gods, performed dances and sang songs from artists including Solange and Erykah Badu and Parliament.

 

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Celebrating Our Roots – Ancient African Kingdoms

This February, Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) celebrated Black History Month with its 6th annual Celebrating Our Roots event. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the community had the opportunity to travel back in time and experience music, art, food and culture from five Ancient African Kingdoms.

With a passport inspired theme, guests visited the Congo where they learned  how to wrap and adorn their head with an African Headdress. Next, they jouryned to Egypt and used clues to escape Nefertiti’s tomb.  Afterwards, attendees traveled to Ethiopia and watched TMA’s Dance Team showcase traditional African dance movements. Chef Shawn Lightfoot from Art-Drenaline Café Brand and the Fresh Food Factory was on site and prepared an African meal from Mali. The last stop was Zulu, where TMA musicians serenaded guests with lively African tunes. Additionally, friends and family listened to spoken word pieces performed by TMA’s Black Awareness Club, enjoyed a fashion show of contemporary African clothing and a dance performance from Norfolk State University’s Dance Team.

Celebrating our Roots is an event that brings Black History Month full circle and allows students to use their gifts and talents to honor the rich history and heritage of African ancestors.

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Special thanks to Chef Shawn Lightfoot from Art-Drenaline Café Frand and the Fresh Food Factory, Norfolk State University’s Dance Team and other supporters and friends who made Celebrating Our Roots a success.