Minority Scholars Program sheds light on achievement gap by leading four new initiatives in hope for improvements

Arya Ramachandran
staff writer

The Minority Scholars Program is discussing its purpose and introducing new members to the MSP community. Planning for events has begun, but the focus is on building a positive club environment.

The MSP club is striving to build a community among its members in the first few meetings. They are focused on creating an open environment where students are able to express themselves. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month. “I would describe MSP as encouraging, welcoming and exciting,” freshman Tyra Nyame, who recently joined the club, said.

The club’s goal is to close the achievement gap by involving all member schools in four initiatives, which include community outreach, peer-to-peer mentoring programs, college visits and a speaker series. “[The program has implemented these initiatives to] positively change the various school cultures such that success and achievement are no longer predictable by race, class, ethnicity and/or gender,” according to the MSP website.

Students all over the county participate in monthly and yearly events that aim to structure a plan to close the achievement gap. Each month, MSP students take part in task force meetings at the Montgomery County Education Association building in Rockville to formulate and adjust their plans. “Students lead workshops on topics such as student advocacy, analysis of the achievement gap, plans for the future, stereotypes, leadership,” according to the MSP website.

MSP also offers a selective internship that allows students to practice advocating for their rights in the education system. The internship selects one member of each high school applicant involved in MSP at their school. “Interns work from July-August, creating action plans to better improve the school system and receiving specific training on grassroots organizing,” accodring to the MSP website.

Students in the club have varying reasons for their initial interest. Freshman Melanie Gonzalez said she initially joined the club in seventh grade at Cabin John and enjoyed it. After hearing about the MSP club here, she became interested in taking part in the program again. “I wanted to join the club because I heard that it can help me in the future,” Gonzalez said.

The club was initially started when students at Walter Johnson wanted to address the lack of minority students in difficult classes and extracurricular activities. Staff members assembled students of African American and Latino background to discuss these issues. “The students embraced the challenge, created a mission and began building the MSP movement. MSP programs are now involved in 23 high schools and 10 middle schools, making it the fastest growing youth movement in Montgomery County,” according to the MSP website

MSP encourages new participants by teaching students’ skills of advocacy and representation that they can utilize outside of the club. “People should join MSP because it gives them the skills to become better leaders and helps them understand that they are able to make a change,” Nyame said.

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