Student-led forum addresses common school problems

The Impact Agency, a Calcasieu Parish Positive Change Initiative, hosted a student-led forum at Lake Charles-Boston Academy of Learning on Monday and talked about common problems African-American men face in school, along with ways to improve them.

A panel of community leaders, advocates and educational professionals talked with students about issues like bullying, academics, respect for authority and personal responsibility for success. Students discussed the best ways to move forward, and the panel later challenged them to think about ways to make their proposals succeed.

“We’ve been addressing kid issues and school issues, but never including the most important component, which are the kids,” said Eric Doshier, agency recruiter and experience coordinator.

The panel applauded one student who spoke about his experience with being bullied as a sixthgrader.

“It really hurts when you can’t get what you want to fit in,” the student said. “It pushes you to a dark point. And if you tell a teacher you would be considered a snitch, so now you’re not only broke, but you’re a broke snitch. No sixth-grader should even know what the meaning of depression is.”

Doshier said the forum was important to prepare students for the upcoming school year, even if they aren’t changing schools.

Braylon Harris, agency director, said the goal is for students to become leaders and “initiate Impact Clubs in every school in Calcasieu Parish.”

Since its creation earlier this year, the group has met governmental and educational leaders that line up with their weekly study of figures like Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln. Upcoming study sessions will focus on Mahatma Gandhi.

“This next phase is going to be very service oriented — inner-city and poverty work,” Harris said.

The agency meets every Sunday for academic enrichment and mentoring from African-American leaders nationwide. Applications are being accepted for sixth-grade boys.

For more information or to apply, call 437-3275.