A look back at the High School Policy Advisory Group.

Over the course of the year, six outstanding students came together to discuss their experiences in Newark Public Schools. They convened as the Trust’s High School Policy Advisory Group (HSPAG). Each month, they examined current policies and practices within their schools.

The Trust checked in with one of the group’s former members, Adewumi Aderibigbe, to learn more about her experience in the program and how it has helped her prepare for and excel in college.

Adewumi attended Newark Vocational at the Westside Campus. She is currently a freshman at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.


Adewumi Aderibigbe, former student, Westside Campus, at graduation with the Trust's Natalie Brathwaite.

Here's Adewumi in her own words.

You never know how amazing, beneficial and life changing a program could be until you are part of it.

At the beginning of it all, I was a bit skeptical. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to spend two hours a week talking about how I felt about certain situations. But then, given my love to talk, I decided to go for it.

There was something about the program that seemed intriguing, interesting, different and unique. I took a leap of faith into one of the best programs ever. You don't always come across a program that puts your best interests at heart and encourages you to unconditionally express yourself through your actions and through your words.

During this program, we had the opportunity to speak up about the changes we wanted to see in our surroundings and about the changes we wanted to see in the school system. Our lives revolve around our education, which is essentially life’s foundation. But if we are not being offered the best of the best when it comes to our education, then what should we do?

Among the main goals of HSPAG is to provide a platform for students to express themselves among peers, to learn from others, to work together to make a change, to begin a revolution and to make an impact.

It is fun, it is interactive and, I could proudly say, I met some amazing people from different backgrounds with excellent points of view. I met geniuses, activists and future presidents. I met people who could one day become the voice of the people, the voice of a nation and even the voice of the world. I met people whose words of wisdom are powerful enough to bring a whole country to its feet, words that could bring about world peace and happiness.

And I can’t forget the wonderful people who brought this program together. Trust me: these are people you would want in your circle for years and years to come. No words can describe how supportive and helpful they were and are still even after the program has concluded. HSPAG needs to be around for ages to come because it’s an outlet for the voice of our community’s youth.

In addition to participating in the Advisory Group and as a way to encourage student voice, HSPAG members have also been featured in a number of city-wide panels and forums . More recently, Dennis Rodriguez and Aaliyah Armani Barnes were featured panelists at the NJ Spotlight on Cities conference, which was held on October 16th at NJPAC.