FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Hundreds of high school students gathered in downtown Fresno Tuesday for the annual African American Student Leadership Conference.
Tuesday morning nearly 700 students from Clovis, Fresno and Central Unified stepped out of the classroom and into the new exhibit hall for inspiration on higher education and leadership skills. After eight years in Clovis the conference moved to downtown Fresno with help from the Fresno County Office of Education to accommodate more students. "Fresno Unified was committed to wanting to do more for their African American students, to encourage growth so we can close those achievement gaps for our students," said Angie Barfield, Fresno Unified School District.
Local education leaders and African American guest speakers attended the conference to spread the word on this year's theme "Changing the Narrative." "I think this will help by teaching me what I don't know. Because, you know the basics of which you need to do to be successful. But you don't know everywhere the different ways from people who are being successful right now in our community," said Kolby Lee, Cambridge High student.
The conference included a career and college fair. Universities from the Valley, California, and across the nation were on hand to help students with applications.
This year was a first for many students but others who returned were excited to see it expand. "We have a mini college expo. When you get all these people together there's a great energy source to be a part of," said Brenden Mckinney, Clovis North high student. "Even if you're not African-American, you know, it is still promoting education, success in anything that you do, and getting an education," said Rhesa Foster, Clovis North High student.
But the learning never stops. Students can learn on the go with the help of their cell phones. Posters with a special bar code allow students to just scan to learn more about African American leaders. "Hopefully when they walk away from today they will have more tools in their toolboxes to make a difference in their lives," said Barfield.
Education leaders hope those tools will help them in college and in the workforce.