African-American Young Ladies Summit Continues to Grow

Dec. 12 marked the third convening of the African-American Young Ladies Summit (A2YLS), bringing together almost 300 DPS students to learn, grow and build upon the ideas that were created during previous summits. As creator and organizer, Dr. Plashan McCune stated during the first summit this past May, “I’d like this event to become a space where young ladies can come together, support one another and put together plans for their futures. My hope is that we create and build upon a number of programs, activities and events that are responsive to the young ladies’ expressed and known needs.”

Dr. Plashan McCune and her AAYLS team start off the day on Dec. 12.

The act of building upon programs for the young ladies has generated continued interest and continuity throughout each event. During the December 12 summit, students split up into three groups to work on projects they had previously decided upon during the October summit. The projects, which include planning a fashion show, a Big Sister-Little Sister event incorporating DPS middle school students, and an overnight camp, give the students the opportunity to practice real-world skills such as collaboration, problem-solving, leadership and creativity. In addition to the three project groups, a Parent and Community Engagement group met to discuss ideas to strengthen family and community engagement within DPS.

Students in the Big Sister-Little Sister project group start with an icebreaker led by DPS team member Sylvia Bookhardt.

The students also had the opportunity to interact with successful Black and African-American professionals, including councilmen and community leaders, during special breakout sessions focused on love and respect. When asked what they learned from this experience, the young ladies touched on aspects of social and emotional growth.

“I learned from this experience that being black is amazing and that you have to love yourselves before you can love others.”

“[I learned] that many different personalities can come together and support each other.”

DPS team member Imani Morning, expanded on the impacts and importance of the A2YLs, “A2YLs events and summits create the space for African-American female students to feel valued, empowered and love for self and others, especially those that share their Black and African-American background and experiences. The young ladies walk away having met both a new adult and student who look like them and can now leverage as they continue their academic journey in DPS. They also get to interact with non-black allies who volunteer time to support the event, which helps them to see that although A2YLs is primarily ran by black educators and partners, our non-black supports agree that this is important. In a time where we see racial tension, it’s critical to demonstrate racial harmony.”

There to show their support for the students, district and community leaders (including, but not limited to) Allen Smith, Suzanne Morris-Sherer, Dr. Sharon Bailey, Antonio Esquibel, Nicole Veltze and Board of Education member Happy Haynes attended and participated in the various activities.

Students ask questions during the love and respect sessions.

The Dec. 12 summit concluded with a raffle for the students, which included gift cards and 12 sets of tickets to “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama,” provided on behalf of the district’s counseling team.

This event and others are supported by individuals and families across the city and district. Interested DPS team members can provide future support by volunteering time, skills and resources. More information on how students (and families) can participate in future programming is coming soon! For questions and to learn more about A2YLs, please email