Students from 38 different high schools met at Ritenour High School on Tuesday for the first of three Gateway2Change summits happening over the next several months.
The session covered the importance of having open conversations about race. Professional motivational speakers Dr. Terrell Strayhorn and Joe Beckman guided students as they shared their perceptions of racial tension.
Nina Miskovic is a senior at Seckman High School, while Royalty Knight, who is also a senior, attends Ritenour. They say they'll take what they've learned today back to each of their schools.
"We don't have much diversity so when we do come back and we have these open conversations it kind of opens the people in our community to a newer world," Miskovic said.
"It's okay to talk about race and it's okay to be angry but you need to take that energy and push it into something positive," Knight said.
Many students also expressed their hope for change. Jen Tiller, chief academic officer with EducationPlus, says that's why the summit was created in the first place; because youth are the future.
"In 2014 following the death of Michael Brown, my staff came together to talk about what we could do to give back to the community and we landed on bringing student leaders together," Tiller said.
The second summit is scheduled for November 17, 2016, and will involve local businesses. On March 10, 2017, each school will pair up with a "sibling school" with differing demographics so that students can see what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes.