Successful Black Student Magazine Project Expanding Statewide

As JLI’s Black Student Magazine project prepares to expand statewide, the middle and high school students who participated in the pilot and Lane Education Service District leaders share their enthusiasm for what was learned.

After 12 weeks of online learning and regular 1:1 engagement between Black students and their Black mentors, the first-of-its-kind Black Student Magazine (blackstudentmagazine.com) was published and distributed in February, just in time for Black History Month. The project’s goal was to support academic achievement for students of color under Oregon’s Student Success Act (HB3427) and the African American/Black Student Success Plan (HB2016). 

We can’t wait to do the magazine again!” said Carlos Sequeira, Ed.D., School Improvement Executive Director for Lane ESD. “Black students were able to see themselves reflected in the work they produced, work directly with adults in whom they saw themselves, learn about a career they might never have considered, have a platform to share their voice, and learn material that is current and relevant to their lives.

“The magazine is high quality and not what is usually associated with a high school project,” Sequeira added. “Black Student Magazine has created a lot of conversations about what is possible for our Black kids in Lane County.”

Sequeira said that one of the classes most failed in high school is language arts. “Imagine what it does for students to be able to experience success at the middle school level in the skills that they learn through interviewing, speaking, presenting, engaging with an adult during the interview and a writer during the edit, and all of the other work that we know is really important for students to be successful in their writing, and academic life,” he said. “It can be life-changing.”

Bailey, a middle school participant, said that she “really liked writing to begin with, but it’s harder to write about something I don’t know. I liked the journalistic process to get structure to my writing. It was good because I was able to ask for help when I needed it. I got to talk to people I might never have met if I hadn’t done this project.”

Anna, a high schooler, also felt her writing improved. “In English class last semester, our teacher had us write a small essay about Covid, and my vocabulary has improved,” she said. “I felt like the project increased my writing skills and how I feel about writing.”

While middle schooler Ben said he “mostly liked fictional writing before” and “didn’t like writing about real things because I wasn’t very good at it” he noted that he feels better about writing since working on Black Student Magazine.

“Usually, I like doing work by myself, but the collaboration for me was very helpful,” he said.
“It helped me to meet new people and have a new experience.”

All the students were excited to share their work in the community. “I’ve gotten many congratulations!” said Anna. “My mom has shared the magazine with her friends and co-workers. I’m proud of myself because this is the first time I’ve done a project like this and it’s boosted my confidence about journalism.”

The full-color, 28-page magazine can be accessed online at BlackStudentMagazine.com.

Meantime, the JLI is expanding the Black Student Magazine project to all 36 counties in Oregon this fall, thanks to support from the Fred W. Fields Fund of Oregon Community Foundation, and Nancy and Dave Petrone. Lane ESD also will support their portion of the expanded project. Stay tuned for how your Black middle and high school students can get involved!

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