The Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) was awarded a Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association for its African American Scholars Program for high schoolers.
The African American Scholars Program is the first of its kind in the Tri-Valley and has inspired the development of similar programs in surrounding districts, LVJUSD officials said.
The initiative was recognized with the award in early December as "an outstanding program in Equity and Access." According to a description on the state School Boards Association website, programs awarded in this category "put into action the belief that all students can learn when they have access to high-quality education programs and the support they need to succeed."
"The African American Scholars project was designed in 2016 to provide Black/African American students with a safe space to talk about their social and emotional wellbeing in school and in their community," said Roxana Mohammed, a vice principal at Livermore High School where the program initially launched before expanding to Granada High School.
"The program saw great success in access to school and college-readiness and a connection to the school community," she continued. "Students are able to discuss topics such as social media, politics, entrepreneurship, entertainment, college, environment and mindfulness."
The primary purpose of the program is to engage and connect and/or reconnect African American students and their families through a combination of bi-monthly sessions for students and monthly engagement opportunities for families, LVJUSD officials said.
"The facilitators of AASP use their vast network to bring in panelists, special guest speakers and local alumni who are making an impact in our society," Mohammed said. "They also facilitate activities to help students build community and networks. Finally, they provide resources to help students prepare for life beyond high school both academically and socially," she added.
Mohammed also said that although the group was created with African American students in mind, all students have the ability to be a part of the program.
"We are truly honored to receive the Golden Bell for this program. When students feel connected, they are set up for greater success both socially and academically," said LVJUSD Superintendent Kelly Bowers.