ASAP no Rocky

Organization supports black students who take honors classes


Janay Gurlly

Students engage in a conversation with the parents of Assistant Principal Brionne Smith, and talk about black resistance. ASAP sponsored the discussion.

United amongst each other, black students are assembled to encourage further development and support in Honors/AP classes in the ASAP program.

The African American Scholar Acceleration Program (ASAP) has been going on for many years however due to COVID there was a pause. The organization is currently fully back and ready for students. Assistant Principal Jenn Sebold, Assistant Principal Brionne Smith, and Counselor Carly Roach are sponsors of the club.

Sophomore Ryane Gibbs commented on how being in ASAP affects her.  

“ASAP impacts me in a positive way, it reassures me that I have value at the school and makes me proud of myself for taking these advanced classes and I’m surrounded by black students who also take these classes,” Gibbs said. 

Gibbs also thinks ASAP is important because it helps build/promote self-confidence in black students and could possibly make their voices feel heard. 

“I see myself going to an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) taking science courses or a science major to be in the medical field,” she said. 

Also, Gibbs said she is excited about a possible field trip the group discussed, where ASAP members invite a white friend to experience the black culture.

“I feel this field trip is a good idea because it’s like a wake-up call that we may not actually have white friends and we should go and expand our horizon with different ethnic groups and races, ” she said.

 Counselor Carly Roach is excited to become aware of the ASAP students’ needs and see what she can contribute to them. 

“Right now I’m learning what the group needs and there are still some inequities within Parkway or just the country in general, so in a space that’s predominantly white it’s special that there’s a place that’s not,” she said. 

Junior DeeJay Lee is another student involved in ASAP.  

“In a lot of cases, I’ve never really seen anybody in my AP or Honors classes. I was usually the only black student so having these meetings and having a connection with them somewhat has always been cool to me, I feel with ASAP we will have a lot more black representation in honors and AP classes, which is much needed. Most of the time we feel isolated in those classes and I think that if there are more black students in those classes it will do a lot more for students mentally and academically,” he said. 

Lee currently has his goal planned out to take a gap year after high school and to later go to a dental school to become an orthodontist. 

Another member of ASAP, freshman Zaden Johnson, agrees with Lee that being the only black person in an honors class can feel uncomfortable. However, he finds himself connecting with anybody regardless of race. Since Johnson is a freshman he is still getting used to the group. Johnson takes Honors Biology and enjoys ASAP because of being around students of color like him and wants to see how far ASAP will take him. Johnson said he wants to pursue his passion for football at Ohio State University. 

One highlight for the ASAP organization will occur this spring. The group will unite with the other Parkway School ASAP students and travel to visit several HBCUs over Spring Break. Students who are interested will visit Clark- Atlanta University, Morehouse College (men only), Spelman College (women only), North Carolina A&T, Norfolk State University, Hampton University, Howard University, and Wilberforce University. Students will also have the opportunity to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. 

Assistant Principal Jenn Sebold concluded with her contribution to ASAP. She said sponsoring ASAP is “the best part of my job.” 

“Part of my role is to build relationships that allow me to support students in reaching their goals, and so one of the focus areas that I’ve chosen to focus on as an administrator is to work with students of color, who are challenging themselves, so there is a need for us to have more black students in AP and honors classes, at least what would reflect the population and that has not been the case all the time, so I’m wondering why that is a thing,” Sebold said. “I try to connect with anyone who needs that support, who needs that extra push, the confidence, who needs the celebrations, who needs the community, and the feeling of safety in an environment that doesn’t always feel safe, but mostly my sophomore students, ” she said. 

Sebold discussed that she is trying to bring students the celebration of Honors Cords to be worn at graduation. 

“Well, I think everybody likes a visual celebration of what they’ve accomplished, to be able to show your friends and family that when you walk across the stage, however, I know that the district also has to agree on what honors cords are going to be offered for, and I know that West so far was the only school to offer them, so our argument would be that everybody should have them and why not?” Sebold said.