ERHS Students Work to Close the Gap Through a New After-school Club
The achievement gap is a growing problem across the country. Four East Ridge High School seniors are stepping up to make sure every student in their school, regardless of race, ethnicity or background has access to a vital resource to help them succeed in school; their peers.
Close the Gap is in its second year at ERHS. It is the brainchild of Rahnon Chowdhury, Aman Lulseged, Santiago Palma and Felipe Patino, four seniors who aim to help close the achievement gap for black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) students.
“Seeing the statistics and seeing minority students not performing at the same rate as non-BIPOC students made me wonder what I can do to make an impact. My mission is to do what I can to help close the gap as an individual,” says Aman.
“We know the achievement gap is a real thing, but it’s also a sensitive topic to a lot of people. We want to face this problem head-on and find a way to help,” says Santiago.
The club is student-led and offers peer-to-peer tutoring by and for BIPOC students.
“Tutoring helps me learn the concept. If I can explain something to someone that means I know it and am proficient and can help someone else learn it too,” says Rahnon.
The four co-founders of the club have worked hard to market the club not only to students but to teachers and staff as well. “Last year, we presented to East Ridge teachers and staff and after that, we saw teachers referring students to join our club,” says Felipe.
Close the Gap club has more than 150 active members. Students are able to drop in whenever they need help with a particular course or topic or even to get ready for big tests.
“We see a lot of students drop in the weeks leading up to the ACT. It’s a great resource to prepare and hopefully help students get a good score,” said Santiago.
As for the future of the club, the co-founders say they are looking at different ways to pass the torch at their school but, they also want to see this club grow and be implemented in other schools across the state.
“One of the most important things is putting the idea out there,” says Aman, “We’re a club right now and we do tutoring but the main thing we want to spread is the idea of the club; student-led tutoring and student success as well as not being scared to talk about the achievement gap and do something about it.”
“The idea of student tutors isn’t new, but we showed it was possible. If four students can bring more than 100 students together to participate, anyone can do it,” says Felipe.
- SoWashCo Schools