SOAR students carry out new initiatives for equity


Jonah Charlton

Seniors Nialie Pompilus, Sofia Garcia, and Hana Hofeld speak to freshmen about SOAR.

Sarah Frieman, News Editor

To increase discussion and shift inequitable stereotypes at ETHS, SOAR students in collaboration with MSAN (Minority Student Achievement Network) worked to implement the MSAN Agency Mentorship Program and the Kingian Nonviolence Workshop this fall.

“A few SOAR students attended the MSAN conference last year, which is where the initiatives were first come up with,” SOAR coordinator Corey Winchester said. “MSAN is a collection of urban-suburban school districts from around the country that deals with the inequities between students of color and white students.”

The Mentorship program was one of the ideas of the MSAN conference last year. The program seeks to increase achievement among students of color by having upperclassmen serve as peer mentors to underclassmen.

“There seems to be a singular definition of what it means to be a successful student such as taking a lot of AP or honors courses,” MSAN student coordinator Chirasree Mandal said. “I hope this program increases the accessibility to opportunities for students of color and helps them achieve the goals they have for high school and beyond.”

SOAR is also partnering with MSAN to send students to the Kingian Nonviolence Workshop on Oct. 26 and Oct. 31. The two day workshop will focus on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideas on nonviolence at the Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence on the south side of Chicago. Participants will then have the opportunity to train others themselves.

“The workshop is a restorative justice program that gives students of color a tool to help deal with conflict,” Winchester said. “Many of the issues that come up are rooted in some sort of instituted or systemic racial bias.” SOAR students have also been working to create Equity Zones around school, which are places any student can go to discuss topics such as race, sexuality, gender or religion in a safe setting. Any staff member, including coaches and teachers can have an Equity Zone. Students will soon be able nominate staff through an online survey application form.

If students are interested in getting more involved in SOAR, they can attend the next conference will be Nov. 16-17 at Northwestern.

“SOAR works to shift the culture of the community and center the voices of students of color to make it more equitable to those who come from marginalized groups,” Winchester explained. “It is collaborative in nature and the majority of the work is run and implemented by students.”