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Princeton High School News

The first ever Malcolm X Memorial Day of Excellence, a full-day session for 25 students from Princeton High School, provided the opportunity for young men to have conversations with professional men and to strategize about how to overcome the challenges boys face as they navigate their way through high school and transition to post high-school life.

The event, held at the Princeton Arts Council on Thursday, was organized by Bethany Andrade Siddiqu, Coordinator of Student and Family Services for Princeton Public Schools. It received an enthusiastic response from the students, many of whom have been meeting with Ms. Siddiqu throughout the school year.

“My hope is that these students will be inspired by this program to reach their full potential,” said Ms. Siddiqu. “We want to provide role models of color in the Princeton community.”

She cited human rights activist Malcom X as an example of the power of community activism. The PHS students had the opportunity to examine the life and legacy of Malcom X as part of the program.

Ms. Siddiqu noted that a colleague, PHS science teacher Joy Barnes-Johnson, approached her with the idea of starting a mentoring program for young men at Princeton High School. Ms. Siddiqu partnered with PHS Assistant Principal Rashone Johnson to make it a reality.

On Thursday, Mr. Johnson was part of the program, encouraging the students to make the most of the time with an impressive roster of male role models, including Randall E. Toby, author and founder of the Magnificent Men Mentoring Group. Corey Laramore, a published author who serves as Coordinator of Student Health and Safety for Princeton Public Schools, spoke about entrepreneurship and high school life. In addition, Kevin C. Hudson, Associate Director for Diversity and College Opportunity at Princeton University, discussed college access and success. Carter Patterson, Director of Programs at the Father Center of New Jersey, engaged the group with hip-hop music and a discussion on how critical thinking intersects with culture and music.

At the start of the event, Ms. Siddiqu was given a resounding round of applause for supporting individual students as they traversed the often stressful experience of high school and planning for life after high school, including applying to college. The mentoring event included students in grades 9 to 12. A high percentage of the seniors who participated will attend college next year. Many credited Ms. Siddiqu with the inspiration and assistance that enabled them to attend college. 

“My door is always open for anyone who wants to talk,” said Ms. Siddiqu, noting that she felt honored that so many students felt comfortable being honest with her about challenges they experience in high school.

“We have been working hard this year to create a community within the school for our students of color,” said Ms. Siddiqu. She said she was gratified by the successes of the PHS students and that she plans to continue hosting similar programs in the future.

Ms. Siddiqu serves as the advisor for the Princeton High School chapter of the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) as well as a for the PULSE (Pride Univerity Leadership Sisterhood Esteem) program designed for young women at PHS. The PHS MSAN group is open to all students and focuses on eliminating the opportunity gaps at Princeton High School.

PPS would like to thank Princeton University for supporting the mentoring event and providing catering in conjunction with 1911 Smokehouse, Trenton.

Photo of Ms. Bethany Siddiqu
Photo of Ms. Siddiqu, Dr. Kelley, and Mr. Laramore
photo of Randall E. Toby

 

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