As we celebrate #BlackHistoryMonth across KIPP Texas, we want to highlight our Black Student groups and their staff mentors who rise together to champion equity.
The Black Student Union at KIPP Somos in San Antonio encourages and supports young black students to individually and collectively achieve academic excellence, prepare for professional success, and develop personal growth throughout their time at KIPP. With the guidance of staff mentors, the 20 students in the Black Student Union meet during their advisory time to contribute to their school culture and build on community within school.
“I saw a need for our black students and our black teachers to connect at our school,” said Black Student Union staff mentor and Assistant School Leader of Academics Ms. Brittany Hill about the current group.
Ms. Hill not only kick-started the Black Student Union at KIPP Somos High School, but she, along with other teachers, previously began the QUEENS and later inspired the KINGS group in San Antonio’s KIPP University Prep school.
“When creating the groups, I wanted to make sure our black students and staff were feeling connected and allowing them to build fellowships upon themselves within the school,” said Ms. Hill.
The QUEENS and KINGS groups at KIPP University Prep High School, now also called the Black Student Union, consisted of young black ladies and black gentlemen, each with similar goals as KIPP Somos. All groups strive to have a strong community of black students and staff at KIPP and beyond the classroom by giving back to their local community. Staff mentors guided students on buying from Black-owned businesses when hosting school events, joining public events such as the San Antonio MLK march, or hosting family park events to connect.
While making community connections is a big part of the group’s goals, the mentors also want students to be exposed to college and career opportunities. One collective goal for the groups is to prepare students for professional success by connecting them with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
“Many of our black students do not know about the HBCUs in our area, and we wanted to show our students that there are colleges that they can attend after graduation where they can feel connected to their community,” said Ms. Hill.
Previously, students participated in HBCU college tours. Although COVID changed the way students connected to each other and their community, mentors quickly pivoted to hosting virtual events to continue the student-to-student connections.
In 2021, the groups hosted a virtual HBCU discussion panel where HBCU college student representatives spoke to KIPP students about their transition from high school to college. Ms. Hill hopes that allowing each KIPP student to ask questions and learn more about HBCUs will result in more HBCU matriculation.
Each student at KIPP Somos Collegiate High School and KIPP University Prep High School is a member of a student group or club of their choice. Other clubs include Entrepreneurship, Automotive, Debate, Chess, to fun clubs such as Spanish Karaoke and Anime.
“We believe that clubs are essential for students to discover and deepen their passions and to develop a well-rounded student ready for college and beyond.”