For a second year in a row, Hamilton High School was recognized as having California’s top BSU.
By Tracey Edwards
Hamilton High School’s Black Student Union (BSU) is having a positive impact on the school’s African-American population. With nearly 400 active members, it is one of the largest organizations of its kind in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and many of their members are heading to college.
“BSU stresses academic achievement and academic excellence,” said Justin Scott, Hamilton High School’s BSU president. “One hundred of our 130 seniors have above a 3.0 GPA. We constantly stress that you have to be on top of your books. You have somewhere to be. You belong at these (college) institutions that don’t look like you. You belong in these places that actively try to resist us.”
Scott is heading to UCLA in the fall, where he will major in African American Studies with a minor in entrepreneurship.
The BSU, which the United Black Student Union of California named BSU of the year for a second time in a row, has gone on local college tours, and they attend Black cultural events.
“For me it’s about growth and purpose,” said Andre Hustace, BSU vice president. “Going into BSU, I was a pretty smart kid, cultured, and I knew what I was talking about. But just being submerged in our culture, and getting to know yourself as well as other people in our community, that really helps you grow. As for purpose, I realized that I do play a leadership role at Hamilton. So taking that very seriously, trying to help my classmates, and even going to other schools and helping them use their voice, those things have helped me grow to be a leader and move people in the right direction.”
Hustace will attend the Musicians Institute in Hollywood this fall, where he will major in artist production and entrepreneurship.
The BSU meets every Wednesday at lunch, under the direction of faculty advisor Kenneth Turner. They plan workshops, networking activities, and conduct leadership exercises. The group has committees that plan the community service activities, such as a Thanksgiving food drive; social activities, such as field trips, dances, and pep rallies; and a Black History Program committee. This past year their program was titled “A New Step.”
“It was about the value of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities),” Scott said. “We created a TV show episode modeled after ‘A Different World.’ Because a lot of people don’t understand that HBCUs are still relevant. Just knowing that we have a place where Black academics and intellectuals can come together and grow.”
Members of Divine Nine fraternities and sororities have spoken to the BSU, and the high school students participated in the HBCU Hub, which was a panel discussion at Staples Center.
All of these activities teach the students how to become leaders.
“It’s helped me become more responsible, and to take initiative,” Hustace said. “If you see something that needs to be fixed, you have to hop on it. Being able to tackle obstacles head on is something that I’ve learned and mastered in BSU.”
For more information about Hamilton High School’s BSU, visit www.hamiltonbsu.org. For more information about the United Black Student Union of California, visit www.ubsuc.com.