Saturday, September 09, 2000

Students exhorted to put education first

Urban League sponsors message aimed at 1,300 attendees

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For students to succeed in school and in life, they must realize that achievement matters.

        That was the message repeated in a variety of ways Friday at the Urban League of Cincinnati's first education summit, held at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center.

[photo] Actor Doug E. Doug was one of several speakers at the Urban League of Cincinnati's first education summit, held Friday at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center.
(Mike Simons photo)
| ZOOM |
        More than 1,300 high school students from 18 Cincinnati public schools and six other school districts listened and participated in activities with motivational speakers, authors and actors, such as Doug E. Doug.

        “It's a well-known fact that education is in a critical state in this city and region,” said Sharon Hardin, with the Urban League. “We felt we needed to let students and the community know that we all need to focus on education together.”

"You have to really believe'
        Students were encouraged to express themselves in a positive manner, and to pursue their goals and dreams.

        “If you have a dream, you have to really believe you can do it,” author Deborah Gregory said. “There will be plenty of people who will tell you you can't.”

        Cara Harris, an eighth-grader at South Avondale School, said she wants to be a lawyer. Ms. Gregory told her to tell people of her plans.

        Donte Shackelford, a motivational speaker from Dayton, Ohio, rallied students with prayers, raps and songs about their own self-worth. Students even sang along to the line, “The books come out at night.”

        Princeton High junior Dorian Spencer said many of the speakers' statements were not new, but “it's good to see so many schools come together in unity.”

Esteem and attitude
        Susan L. Taylor, publications director for Essence, spoke to a small group of young women about the importance of making the choice to be happy.

        “It's your responsibility to know who you are and where you come from,” she said.

        Ken McDowell, a former Princeton High principal, talked with a large group about attitude, discipline and preparation.

        “Many of you are not willing to make the sacrifice to put peer pressure down to the bottom of the list of values in your life,” Mr. McDowell said. “Hopefully at some point in your life, your attitude will change.”

        The messages did not fall on deaf ears, Princeton High junior Rita Covington said.

        “This is good for young black students,” she said, “because we need motivation to finish high school and be something.”

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