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D.C. students become advocates at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High Schools

By   /   June 10, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Shayla Johnson, a senior at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School, believes police militarization and racial tension needs to end. But she did more than post a Facebook status about it — she dedicated her senior thesis to finding a solution to the problem.

Johnson joined two of her other classmates, Monet Deadwyler and Damani Jasper, at Georgetown University last week to present their senior thesis to the public.

While Johnson addressed the issue of police brutality, Jasper looked at the causes and solutions of college debt, and Deadwyler argued for a one-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The thesis is the capstone project of students at Cesar Chavez that addresses a public policy issue. Students must present their findings, give both sides of the debate, develop their own solution to the problem, and write a 15-page analysis. The top three students are then asked to defend their policies to a panel of professionals.

Joan Massey, CEO of Cesar Chavez, said the thesis is used to teach students skills they need to become civic leaders, such as public speaking, research and forming their own opinions.

“We can’t assume that just because they’re going through a rigorous academic program, that they could put it all together into this type of accumulating project and this is what they need in order to really be successful in college and be successful after college,” said Massey.

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