BSU Dinner Connects Black Families on Mercer Island
On February 9, over 100 Black and African American parents and students from the Mercer Island School District gathered for the first annual Black Student Union Dinner (BSU) at Mercer Island High School. Elementary, middle, and high school students and parents came together to promote community, inclusion, and unity.
The dinner was organized by MIHS junior Tewodros (Teddy) Sanchez-Alemu, who was inspired to have the dinner after the first BSU mentorship program meeting at West Mercer Elementary in November, where Black elementary students connected with high school BSU mentors. The BSU mentorship program is led by senior Jamison Drayton.
“I was amazed by the sense of community and connection we had with those that we just met, and I could see the joy of the kids to see those similar to them,” Tewodros said.
With the support from BSU advisors, Kelly John-Lewis, Beniam Yetbarek, and Valerie Perine, and the school district, the BSU Dinner will be an annual event to continue with these connections.
Before dinner was served, BSU advisor Kelly gave a welcome speech to families and let parents know that now that his sons are away at college, his priorities have changed. “Now, I am here for your kids,” he said. “You are not alone.”
Along with Teddy, BSU members Brooks Kashai and Joy Pearl gave moving speeches. Here are the transcripts of the speeches:
- Senior Brooks Kashai’s speech here discusses BSU’s campaigns during Black History Month and beyond.
- Freshman Joy Pearl’s speech here talks about her positive experience being part of the BSU community.
- Junior Tewodros Sanchez-Alemu’s speech here includes his experience growing up on Mercer Island and finding comfort with BSU.
Here is the Mercer Island Reporter article about BSU’s schedule of Black History Month events.
For questions about the high school’s Black Student Union, please contact Kelly-John Lewis, Beniam Yetbarek, or Valerie Perine. For questions about the BSU mentorship program, please contact Soyun Chow.
The students, staff, and community continue to amaze and inspire me. Students are excelling in and out of the classroom through athletics, clubs and organizations, and even personal pursuits beyond MISD. Some of our staff members are gaining recognition by local, state, and national organizations. And our families, they are volunteering through the schools and PTA, supporting the Mercer Island Schools Foundation, and sending eager learners to school each day. I will highlight specific events coming in May, but also invite you to read more about recent accomplishments and points of pride at the end of this letter.
The Mercer Island School District, in partnership with the Mercer Island Preschool Association (MIPA), hosted an Inclusionary Practices Roundtable for Mercer Island Preschool Directors this afternoon. The roundtable took place in the Board Room in the MISD Administration Building.
The Mercer Island Destination Imagination (DI) teams had a fantastic showing at both the Regional and State DI competitions. At the regional tournament 21 of the 24 teams earned awards and recognition for their work. This included several special awards recognizing exceptional technical designs, integration of music into their solutions, and the inclusion of superior engineering elements.
Upcoming in April, we have more religious and cultural celebrations to recognize. Though some of these spiritual or days of significance fall either on a weekend or when the schools are closed for spring break, we will continue to recognize and make space for our students and staff who participate in the many traditions.