On June 1st, Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy hosted its 5thAnnual Public Policy Symposium in the picturesque Gaston Hall Auditorium at Georgetown University. Three top seniors from Chavez Schools – Alexys Hewlett, Nicolas Vilarroel, and Brenda Guevera-Ortiz – presented their year-long research and policy solutions to an audience of education experts, community leaders and Obama administration staff.
Opening remarks were delivered by Chris Murphy, Vice President for Government Relations and Community Engagement at Georgetown University. Chavez Schools CEO, Joan Massey greeted the audience and presented the keynote speaker David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Academic Excellence for African Americans. Johns offered an inspiring address on the importance of a high-quality education that challenges students to think critically about global issues.
“This is my favorite day of the year,” said Massey. “This event is the culmination of a year-long effort from our students and their thesis teachers. The passion and dedication our students displayed today is contagious. I couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve done.”
Each scholar laid out their findings in an impressive fashion including background information on their topics, controversies surrounding the issues, and various policy solutions. Alexys Hewlett from the Parkside campus discussed residential segregation; Nicolas Vilarroel from the Capitol Hill campus discussed the Syrian refugee crisis; and Brenda Guevara-Ortiz, also from the Capitol Hill campus, discussed college access for undocumented students.
The inspiring evening concluded with a reception and panel discussion moderated by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. Panelists Joan Massey; D.C. Deputy Mayor for Education Jennie Niles; D.C. Public Charter School Board Chair Darren Woodruff; and FOCUS Executive Director Irene Holtzman.