Minority students are underrepresented in rigorous courses at Cedar Shoals High School. African American students make up 52.2% of the student population, but only make up 25.8% of Advanced Placement enrollment at Cedar.
STARTLING STATISTICS: A graph shows students’ statuses in AP enrollment at Cedar Shoals for the 2021-22 academic year, broken down by race. Looking at the columns from left to right, less Black or African American students are involved in AP classes. “I feel like [minority] students are so isolated, especially when you get into AP classes,” Miller said. Source: James Barlament, Executive Director of Innovation, Strategy and Governance. Infographic by Jason Zhang.
Seniors Daniel Choi and Ikeoluwa Ojo noticed this issue, so they decided to start their own student-led club, Minority Excellence (M.E.), in hopes of encouraging more minority students to take these rigorous classes and excel in them.
“The problem Ikeoluwa and I saw within our AP classes and the clubs that we were both in was that there weren’t enough minority students. We’ve been in this advanced group along with other kids, but it’s pretty much only us as the minorities. It’s a problem that we’re trying to fix,” Choi said.
By encouraging more students of color to join AP classes, Choi hopes students can earn college credit and help minority students on their road to college.
“We’d do this by helping (students) find scholarships, providing opportunities for community service and creating an environment in which students are able to excel at Cedar,” said Choi.
Despite M.E. being a primarily student-led organization, the club is sponsored by Montu Miller, social studies department.
“Daniel and Ikeoluwa were some of my top students and I always had fun with them. When they came to me and said, ‘We have this idea for this club.’ I said ‘Let’s do it.’ So we made it happen. To me it was like they took the lessons that I taught them in (Peer Leadership) class and applied it to the real world—applied it to Cedar,” Miller said.
Choi and Ojo divided the club into four committees: education, community service, social media, and public relations. Each of these are led by committee chairs who organize their committee’s events. The club has monthly general meetings for all members and committee specific meetings.
“We’ve always had the idea of having four committees. Each one has its own focus on improving the reputation of our club and helping our community as much as possible,” Choi said.
Students attending the meetings can expect a power point presentation detailing a summary of what happened since the previous meeting and what events are being planned. Over the summer, M.E. planned a picnic.
“The picnic was a way for people in the club to get to know each other better but also to inform them of the different commitments within the club. It was fun, mainly because I got to meet new people but also because it felt casual,” said sophomore Mercy Thang, a member of M.E.
M.E. recently had their first meeting of the school year and are expecting many more.
“It’s running perfectly, better than we (Choi and Ojo) imagined. Today a bunch of people showed up and we were not expecting this many people, which brought a smile to our faces. I’m really excited about this, since it’s only the beginning of the year. I’m super happy that a lot of people showed up and it shows potential for this group,” said Choi.