I sat outside of El Cerrito High school on Wednesday afternoon anxiously waiting for my mom to arrive. I had made sure to let her know way in advance the specifics of that evening and I was a little worried that she had gotten stuck with a project at school. However, just as I contemplated this, she suddenly pulled up in her white pick up truck and we rushed home to get changed and ready for the WCCUSD School Board Meeting.
I was relieved that we live less than three minutes away from LeVonya DeJean Middle school because we were running a bit late that evening. Even so, we drove a bit faster than usual to ensure that I was not late. As we entered the auditorium I eyed a member of the Brown cohort and quickly walked over to her, not entirely sure where I was supposed to be sitting. Within moments however, I spotted the familiar faces of my own Penn cohort and took a seat next to Mariko.
Seeing as this was my first School Board meeting I did not know what the agenda was, but I was excited to see that so many community members attended. Some of them were holding signs supporting adult education and others I saw promoting Measure K. When the meeting began, I noticed that the discussion was mostly among the school board members, as they were voting on numerous items, but I was interested in seeing some of the attendees speak out on their personal issues and opinions. When that time came, the school board listened intently to each speaker as they gave a maximum two-minute speech regarding their opinions on how the district money should be distributed. Overall, I think that the topic on funding adult education was the primary concern of the evening among a large number of the community members. That evening I gained a great appreciation for these meetings because there were so many people that were given the opportunity to share their concerns, ideas, and simply express themselves in an accepting environment. I know many people feel that they do not have a voice in their communities, but that is what these board meetings allow: a space for citizens to vocalize their concerns and really be listened to by those in charge.
After community members spoke, the ILC cohorts went up one by one to receive recognition for their achievements and to let everyone know what this program is all about. The Penn cohort was second to last and I was excited to go up to the stand with my fellow students and friends. After every ILC introduction the room was filled with applause and it felt amazing to know that it was not just out family members or representatives that were proud of us, but that the entire community was supportive of this journey we are about to take.
When it was time to take the enormous group photo I was even more excited. I have been talking to friends about the ILC program since the beginning of Sophomore year and I have seen the group picture so many times that I could not wait to be in one myself! Although the arrangements were challenging, Don did an excellent job at directing all of the parents, students, and chaperones, so we all ended up being positioned very nicely. This picture, and meeting as a whole, truly made me feel more ready than ever to embark on this amazing journey. I say journey because since this entire process with ILC has begun I have gained an enormous amount of motivation and have an incredible opportunity lying ahead to learn more about myself and begin to lay out a future that I can be proud of.