On Wednesday, May 9 at 3:30 p.m., Indiana University Northwest Assistant Professor of French Scooter Pégram, Ph.D., will join colleagues at Gary Roosevelt High School in recognizing the efforts of students who participated in the civic-engagement program “Conversations with Gary Youth.” By promoting reading, discussion and interaction among high school students, this program encourages students to examine themselves and their relationships with others in the context of issues like identity, community, justice, and equality.
“Conversations with Gary Youth” was organized by Pégram, who also applied for the grant that funded the project. The grant was provided through the Project on Civic Reflection at Valparaiso University. Pégram said that 12 students participated in each of the eight two-hour sessions and another six or seven students attended intermittently as their athletic commitments allowed.
“All the students in the program were self-selected,” Pégram said. “We didn’t pick anybody; it was open to whoever wanted to come. And I’m glad to say that we didn’t lose anybody. Once they came, they stayed.”
To participate in “Conversations with Gary Youth,” students were asked to read assigned texts in class and also to participate in group readings of short stories, poems and essays. The group’s members then engaged in reflective discussions about the material, how it related to their own lives, and how they relate to those around them. Pégram said the response by those involved has been extremely enthusiastic.
“The students with whom I have been working are outstanding, and this project has been a smashing success,” he said. “These students are a shining example (for the community).”
At the program’s final session at the high school on May 9, participating students will be awarded a plaque and a book to commemorate their completion of the program.
Pégram said he hopes to bring “Conversations with Gary Youth” back next year. He noted that funding from the Project on Civic Reflection was intended as seed money and said that he will need to locate new funding if the program is to continue.
For more information about “Conversations with Gary Youth,” contact Prof. Scooter Pégram at (219) 980-6532 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.