CPS Holds First Youth Equity Leadership Summit: CRLS Students Advocate for Change

Hannah Chun, Metro Editor

This year, a group of CRLS students organized Cambridge Public Schools (CPS)’s very first Youth Equity Leadership Summit, where many Cantabrigians gathered online to discuss education, equity, and youth initiative. The Summit included a student panel with representatives from the African American Studies Initiative, Intersectional Feminist Club, Anti-Asian Sentiment Workshop, Equity Collaborative, and Peer Mentoring Support Group, all of whom contribute to driving equity forward and cultivating a more inclusive learning space for all students.

“Sophomore year, I really came to the realization of equity in the curriculum in school; it came as a very prominent topic to me,” said Grace Clemente ’23, one of the students who organized the Summit, in an interview with the Register Forum. “I thought this would be a very good opportunity to get students’ feedback and not only have them talk, but also make sure something changes after this Summit happens,” she continued.

Another student organizer, Adelina Escamilla-Salomon ’23, expressed a similar sentiment: “I’m definitely passionate about equity, and coming into high school, I found more ways to be involved in it.” Escamilla-Salomon also shared a more personal inspiration for the Summit, saying, “My mom grew up in south Texas,and the education system there isn’t good, especially for people of color. It was difficult for her not being able to learn about her own history, so I think it’s really important for me to be able to … step up and have this conversation in a place that’s a lot more welcoming to it.”

The Summit not only inspired but also supported young people.

Chelsea Figaro ’22, another member of the Summit leadership team, emphasized the importance of student initiative. “I feel like there have been a lot of issues brought up to the administration that didn’t get a response. I think this was a good opportunity to amplify student voices because students experience this every day. I want to make sure all perspectives and sides of the story are heard because I feel like that’s been suppressed for so long.”

The transition from online to in-person school also influenced the Summit’s purpose. “Many people are coming back from quarantine and online school, and we were being pushed right back into in-person school. Since many of us are not used to that, I wanted to hear what other people thought of it. I also wanted to hear other people’s experiences rather than just relying on our own,” Iman Boulouah ’22 told the Register Forum.

Despite each student’s unique perspective on the Summit,the objective was the same. “It’s important, necessary, and possible for us to advocate for ourselves and change things for ourselves. We want attendees to know that action is being taken and we want to hear and amplify students’ voices,” said Figaro. Ultimately, the four hope that the Summit not only inspired but also supported and uplifted young people. As Escamilla-Salomon put it, “You should know that you’re not alone in your experience, and as a community, we need to come together and step up and speak out. All hands on board.”

This article also appears in our October 2021 print edition.