Mrs. Smith's experience in Washington D.C

Travis Haughton, Staff Reporter

As a student at Berkeley High School, Mrs. Smith was uninterested in anything political. However, after returning home from college, she was disappointed with the gentrification in her community. She identified herself as an African-American female and majority of her students are African-American.”My belief is that we, the African American community need information that has long been denied to us,”said Mrs. Smith. She went to Washington D.C. because she wanted a better understanding of how the political process works. Smith feels that the more people understand the system, the more that people can make that same system work for us and not against us.

While Smith was there, she attended The Presidential Inauguration Youth Leadership Summit. Twenty-five hundred students from around the world converged upon the DC-Metro area for the conference. “I must say, it was life-changing. I was in awe of the students and their leadership skills. As each cohort group exited the plane, they greeted one another as old friends even though some of them had never met,”said Smith. The atmosphere was charged with excitement as students tackled real world problems such as climate change, world peace, curing cancer, women and global leadership, and STEAM for the future.

The summit began Wednesday, January 18th and continued through Sunday, January 22nd. It was four days of creativity and enlightenment. “I couldn’t help but think of how much more we could do as a community here in Florissant if we mobilized the intelligence of young people and put them to work saving the world they will soon inherit,”said Smith.

Smith’s favorite part of the summit was meeting film producer Spike Lee and hearing former Attorney General Colin Powell speak. She immediately wished she could have brought the entire McCluer North Community to hear their inspirational speeches. He admitted that he struggled in school, earning low grades ranging from a C to even Fs, until he found his passion. He gave a charge to everyone in the audience to find their passion, the thing that makes them want to get out bed in the morning. Mr. Lee explained that his inspiration comes from all around him. He writes about what he sees and his creativity is sparked by reading and immersing himself in culture.

“I believe that as a community here in McCluer North, we need to immerse ourselves in a positive culture. No longer should we allow ourselves to do less than we are capable. Getting by should be not tolerated because they competition is pushing harder and stronger with more finances to back them,”said Smith.

Smith found the Inauguration to be anti-climatic. There wasn’t the excitement and energy she had hoped for when she signed up to be in the program. It was hard to enjoy the experience because of the great discourse in DC. There was a tragic split among the crowd of Trump supporters and anti-Trump sentiments. “I was one of very few African-Americans in the crowd. I found that intimidating. I was ready to leave prior to the acceptance speech because I felt uncomfortable,”said Smith.

If the opportunity presents itself again in four years, Smith says she would definitely attend. However, she hopes that some students from our school would be willing to do the work and qualify to attend as well.