High School students learn about higher ed
By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent
Latinos and other students from Lorain High School spent
an inspirational day learning about college, careers, and other
possible futures, as their school hosted the
2013 United States Hispanic Leadership
Institute (USHLI) Student Leadership Summit.
Lorain was just one of ten high schools across the country to
receive the opportunity to host the free summit, which included
motivational speakers and workshops on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013.
Lorain H.S. principal, explained that USHLI motivational speaker
Jimmy Cabrera made an appearance at the school last year,
so she was seeking a similar program for students this academic
year. One-third of the student body is Latino.
Ms. Conibear reached out to USHLI representatives, who happened
to have one slot left for the Student Leadership Summit tour.
McDonald’s restaurants co-sponsored the tour.
“We were very fortunate,” she said. “I want to make sure we
provide culturally diverse programs for our students.”
Dr. Juan Andrade,
USHLI president, traveled from Chicago to address the students,
relating his background as a migrant farmworker and factory
worker. He has earned five college degrees as an adult, after
growing up as a boy of meager means.
“Even coming from a poor family, he worked so hard because he
knew the value of education,” said Ms. Conibear. “That was his
message: to know you can go anywhere you can in life if you
achieve educational goals. Anybody can do it—doesn’t
matter where you come from, what your family background is, what
your socioeconomic status is. It’s about you being focused on
the importance of education.”
A McDonald’s regional manager also spoke to high school students
about his hard work as a young African-American which paid off
with his management role today, a reinforcement of Dr. Andrade’s
McDonald’s restaurants awards $23 million annually in college
scholarships through its Ronald McDonald Charities. In
addition to ensuring Lorain students had the necessary
scholarship information, USHLI helped school officials organize
a college/career fair.
Many of the other presenters came from the organization
CoolSpeak, a youth engagement company from
Philadelphia providing speakers, programs, and events geared
toward motivating middle school, high school, and college-age
The Lorain H.S. principal called the featured speaker, CoolSpeak
president/ CEO Carlos Ojeda, Jr. “the true hero” of the
summit. She stated Ojeda spoke of his own struggles in high
school and how teachers told him “he would never see a diploma
in his hands.”
“He was diagnosed with a severe hearing impairment at the age of
23, but spent his entire life (to that point) thinking that was
just the way the world was—that he just couldn’t hear and didn’t
realize that there was a problem,” said Ms. Conibear. “Until he
got his SAT scores back—he scored 1100 out of 1600—that the
colleges were all over him because of his SAT scores. The strong
message he sent the students is that if you don’t ask
questions, you’re never going to find out answers. Don’t be
afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand or need
Ojeda founded CoolSpeak to not just share his story with
students, but combat the high school dropout rate that is
plaguing cities across the U.S. Ojeda, still in his 30s, is
considered one of the more dynamic educational speakers in the
“All of these people stayed after, interacted with the kids, got
pictures taken with the students. It was just a really
incredible experience for our kids,” said Ms. Conibear.
Ninth and tenth graders participated in sessions involving
motivational speakers, which dealt with the importance of
education and setting high goals. Older students received
information about scholarships, financial aid, and the college
CoolSpeak vice president, did a college presentation for juniors
and seniors, emphasizing how he went from college dropout to
later earn his Master’s degree in organizational leadership with
a focus on higher education. The theme of the traveling summit
is “Knowledge is Power.”
“It was ironic, because we had a slogan contest at Lorain High
School last year and a student won a mini-iPad for a slogan
reflecting the premise of student learning and creating a
climate and culture of valuing education,” said Ms. Conibear.
“The slogan that was picked is ‘knowledge is power.’”
The school recently received a $10,000 grant from the Lorain
Endowment Fund to present each student with a T-shirt, which
reads on the front “a proud member of the Titan Learning Club”
and “Knowledge is Power” with a book and the Titan mascot sword
and the phrase “You don’t know what I know” on the back.
The T-shirt coincides with an ongoing project called “Show
What You Know Friday,” where students from different
programs demonstrate their knowledge in the school auditorium
during a school assembly on the final Friday of each month. This
week’s presentation came from the students in the Career
Technology and Fine Arts programs.
“We’ve just had some really cool things come out of this,” said
Ms. Conibear. “The teachers are into it. The students are into
it. So the students get up on the stage and show off what
they’re learning. So the Student Leadership Summit really fit
right into what we’re trying to do within the building, getting
kids to think toward their post high school education, thinking
about the decisions they make now, the things they’re doing now,
how high school impacts their future and to be successful
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12/26/13 19:21:16 -0800.