The 10 panelists, ranging in age from 15-21 and all current or former students of the Washington High School cluster, spoke candidly about their experiences growing up in the historic community and their perception of the Westside revitalization efforts.
We couldn’t get enough of the outstanding youth, so we caught up with four of the students to hear what they thought of the Summit, learn more about their plans for the future, and, as always, their hopes for the Westside.
Meet the Youth:
Jocelyn, 17, Senior, Booker T. Washington High School
Natasha, 15, Sophomore, Booker T. Washington High School
Lyric, Senior, Georgia State University (Booker T. Washington Alum)
Antonio, 16, Junior, Booker T. Washington High School
What were your impressions of last Friday’s Summit? What was the experience like? Was there anything that surprised you?
I was really surprised to see that many people come to a Summit just to hear kids speak and tell their experience about the Westside. It was really inspiring to me.” – Natasha
Is there anything you’d like to say today that you didn’t have an opportunity to share at the Summit?
I’d like to see more affordable housing, but healthier food options as well.” – Jocelyn
What is your dream career? What would you like to be when you grow up?
My dream job is to be a game designer! I like art, and I like to play video games a lot. I just like technology. I want to create new things.” – Antonio
Why do you feel programs like Raising Expectations are important? What has Raising Expectations meant to you?
RE means a lot to me, honestly. I’ve been here for 10 years. I started in 7th grade. From there on out, I’ve had the support system that I didn’t necessarily have at home. Growing up I moved to several homes. The one thing that stayed constant in my life was Raising Expectations. They helped me grow into the woman I am now. When I met Miss Tangee and Miss Maria, it changed my life and my view. Not only just personally, but showing me that I’m competing on a global scale. What I see here is not the only thing that’s here on this Earth. There’s more to experience and better opportunities. You just have to work at it and take advantage.” – Lyric
What do you love most about the Westside? What is your hope for the future of the Westside?
I would hope that in the future we can keep our culture and that feeling of togetherness, even with development that comes along. I want people to say, ‘we can go to the Westside, and it still feels the same.’ Of course we have new buildings and new development, but it’s good. It’s a good look. It’s growth. Keeping these people. Keeping these historic landmarks. Going forth and making something better is what I hope for the Westside.” – Lyric
“I like how the Westside is basically a story. There are things that surprise you. Things that you still are learning! And I love my school! Martin Luther King went there! I don’t want anything to change, it just needs to be improved. Everything here is history.” – Natasha