San Bernardino County School Board District Members and Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown gather for a group shot during the Grad Summit ceremony on Saturday, November 15. (Photo credit: Angela M. Coggs)
By Angela M. Coggs
On Saturday, November 15th, Grad Summit 2014 was held at California State University, San Bernardino from 8:30am to 3:00pm. The event was organized by a coalition of local, state and national organizations that joined forces to make college and career readiness a core educational priority in San Bernardino.
The summit convened in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and National GradNation Campaign and the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) and CSUSB, among other groups, which was attended by parents, students, and community officials.
The primary goal of the National GradNation Campaign is to achieve a 90% graduation rate nationwide by 2020 with no high school graduating less than 80 percent of its students.
The summits goal is to build on dropout prevention efforts by elevating San Bernardino County-Wide efforts to link classroom innovation with career development to improve graduation rates and college/career readiness. The day-long summit featured inspirational speakers and dynamic workshop sessions that demonstrated rigorous academics emphasizing real-world application critical for college and career.
Dina Walker (Photo Credit:: Angela M. Coggs)
Officials in attendance included SBCUSD Superintendent Dr. Dale Marsden, SBCUSD Communications Director Linda Bardere, Superintendent Elect SBCS Ted Alejandre, CSUSB President Dr. Tomas D. Morales, SBCUSD Board President Mike Gallo, SBCUSD Board Member Abigail Medina, and Executive Director Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE) Rev. Samuel Casey.
Two SBCUSD students helped to kick off the morning with encouraging and inspirational words. Raihanah Medlock, Grand Terrace High School sophomore, recited an uplifting spoken word and Alexander Mattison, San Bernardino High School senior, also represented the student voice and challenged students to graduate from high school and to sign the pledge banner. His speech reverberated with the audience.
Dina Walker, newly elected member of the Rialto School Board and President/CEO of BLU Educational Foundation, was the moderator for the event.
“I thought the Summit was excellent. We had great buy-in from many community leaders, educational leaders, as well, parents and students. The connection for career and college was definitely evident. The feedback I received from some of the students was that they were very interested in everything especially about the entrepreneurship. It gave them ways to connect what they want to do and make money out of it. Even if they did not go onto college how they would be viable,” said Walker.
The keynote speakers, Eric Schmidt, Co-Founder of Exquadrum Inc. and Garner Holt, Garner Holt Productions, Inc. addressed the attendees with their inspirational stories of how their passion was realized at a young age and how they made a living from something the loved. Their message really resonated with the students, as well as the parents, in the audience. Walker agreed, “One of the things they (students) got out of the speakers today was taking their personal interest, even as a young person, and making into a business opportunity.”
Rev. Sam Casey with members of the SB County Sheriff Department (Photo Credit: Angela M. Coggs)
In addition to the speakers and the many valuable workshops, including Building Ideas for Teen Entrepreneurs, Career Pathway Success in Public Safety Academy, College Knowledge 101, and Building Ninjas Robots, there were vendors on hand with information and giveaways. Edison International representative, Wendell Jones, attended the summit to promote their 2015 Edison Scholars Program and was very impressed with the day-long event. “The Summit was amazing. It had a lot of valuable information for the students and the parents here. It was a great informational session and I look forward to being a part of it again next year.” Jones spoke to many students and parents about the scholarship opportunity from Edison in hopes to motivate them to apply for the program. “Edison is offering thirty (30) $40,000 scholarships to high school seniors looking to go into a four year university in an S.T.E.M (Science Technology Engineering and Math) program. They must live or go to school in an Edison region, have a 2.8 grade point average. The application pool was low last year and this is why I am out here and going to other events and schools and letting students know about this opportunity.”
Performances from local schools Richardson PREP Jazz Band, San Gorgonio High School Dance Group, and Arroyo Valley High School Dance Company in the afternoon were a real crowd pleaser. All the students put on a flawless routine and received standing ovations.
Brianna Robertson, 9th grader from Cajon High School, was empowered after the Summit. “I was really surprised how much of a good time I had. I learned a few new things that will better prepare me for college. Plus, I had friends there and we will remind each other of what we learned and to stay on track. The school band, BSU dancers, lunch and raffle prizes made the day even better.” Robertson attended the event with her mother who was also a vendor. Devona Robertson is an engage mother of three, community leader, District African American Advisory Council (DAAAC) Officer and Vice President of Young Women’s Empowerment Foundation (YWE), signed the San Bernardino 2014 GradSummit Call to Action Pledge banner after accepting the challenge given to the educational leaders, parents/caregivers and students during the opening welcome and remarks.
As a growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to end America’s dropout crisis, this day-long summit to help ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and a career was a success.