Blake Minority Scholars Program Retreat

On Thursday, Mar. 9, the Blake Minority Scholars Program (MSP) held an in-school retreat to discuss current issues that underrepresented students face in MCPS. They held many workshops discussing topics such as the opportunity gap, financial literacy and the anti-racist audit. The purpose of these workshops was to raise awareness about these issues, especially in our community. 

Students learned about privilege, opportunity, and achievement gap. They also were made aware of financial literacy, among other relevant topics. The session started off with observing what needs to change in our school when talking about race, student safety, and success. Participants answered questions by writing their thoughts on sticky notes, which were then organized into a google doc, and then sent to Principal Bob Sinclair. This exercise let students express their thoughts anonymously, which allowed them to not restrict their answers. 

Students then participated in a β€˜privilege walk;’ a non-judgemental interactive activity that let students experience how everybody’s opportunities affect their life at school, as well as outside of it. To sum the activity up, everyone lined up horizontally with their eyes closed, and took a step forward if they agreed with a statement and a step backwards if they disagreed. The questions were aimed at everyone’s personal life, so the questions asked about experiences people have or haven’t had. They asked if people had ever attended summer camp or if your parents have a college education.

 It was extremely interesting at the end when everyone opened their eyes and saw where everybody stood, and indicated how everybody’s opportunities affected them. It gave insight on how everybody goes to the same school, but their lives outside may be vastly different. To explain this point, student leaders of the program gave a speech on opportunity and achievement gaps in schools. Students learned about factors that affect this, such as, socio-economic circumstances, family education, and health.

The third activity was a presentation on financial literacy and how people should learn to save money for the future. The presentation also went in depth about mortgages and taxes, as many students aren’t fully aware of/understand them. The presenters gave a detailed plan of how saving should be done, with different percentages of money spent/saved. They went over a 50-30-20 percentage plan for money management, where 50% of all of your money should go towards needs, like rent and basic necessities. Next is 30% that can be spent on wants, such as entertainment subscriptions, eating out, and excess clothes. The final 20% is meant to be invested, and while investing is very risky and a long term plan, the rewards can be very satisfying if done correctly.  

The MSP also had their all-county retreat on Saturday, February 18, where students participated in discussions and activities as they relate to race, anti-racism, restorative justice, and unity.