Rancho Cucamonga, CA — The Etiwanda School District (ESD) is hosting its first ever community event to acknowledge and celebrate African-American contributions to our local and national community.
CELEBRATING OUR CULTURE THROUGH BLACK EXCELLENCE, a cultural fair, will take place March 2, 2019 at Etiwanda Intermediate Middle School, from 12pm – 5pm. The event will include local vendors, entertainment, parent mini workshops, raffles, and much more. “We are also excited to have two local powerhouses, and host this event,” said Lena Davis, parent AAPEAC member. The hosts for this exciting event will be Allen D. Gray, CEO and Founder of JazzKat Entertainment alongside Patrick Smith, Co-Owner of Raquel’s Jazz Lounge, Rialto, CA. This is an experience you do not want to miss.
The event is being planned and organized by the school district’s African American Parent Educator Advisory Council (AAPEAC), an advisory group whose aim is to support the district in improving the outcomes for Black/African American students.
The AAPEAC was created in 2017-18 school year, after a group of concerned parents attended a school board meeting to encourage the district to institute recommendations detailed in a report by the 2016 San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools African-American Task Force for Student Achievement. One of the recommendations calls for district and school level implementation of advisory committees composed of parents and educators.
“My husband Billy Ross and I, along with Tearsa Gray, LaNae Norwood, Ayanna Bologuin, Victor and Tye Merritt, went to the school board to find out what steps had been taken to implement the recommendations, and to offer our assistance for an advisory committee,” said Tamara Ross, the AAPEAC Chairperson.
Shortly thereafter, ESD Superintendent Dr. Sean Judson invited the parents and other district staff members to form a working group. Over the course of several months, the working group created the structure of the AAPEAC, defining its mission and organizational by-laws. District founding members who are now serving on the committee include teacher, LaTawnya Robinson, counselor LaToya Townsend, Vice-Principal Kim Porter, Principal Damita Walton, and Vice Superintendent Charlayne Sprague.
There are eight educators and seventeen parents, each representing one of the district schools, serving on the council. Some of the parent representatives include the original working group participants, called “founding members.” Other parent representatives were elected through votes held at their respective schools. The educator representatives are invited by district administration and volunteer their time to serve on the council.
The cultural fair is the AAPEAC’s inaugural event. A community breakfast for parents and educators is being planned for the first trimester of 2019. In addition to events, the council is studying the education environment for ways to help the district’s Black/African-American student outcomes increase and to close the achievement gap.
East Heritage Elementary School Principal and AAPEAC member Damita Walton says she is excited about the events being planned for students and families, particularly the Cultural Celebration. “It will be a great day of celebrating, networking and connecting with our African American families. I look forward to continuing the collaboration and discussion between parents and educators to improve achievement for African American students in the Etiwanda School District.”