U-High students attend CGI event over the weekend


Caledonia Abbey

TACKLING TOUGH ISSUES. Former President Bill Clinton introduces the panelists for a session on gun violence.

Ella Beiser and Priyanka Shrijay

More than 50 high school students attended portions of the Clinton Global Initiative University held on the U. of C. campus Oct. 19-21. The students representing U-High and the U. of C. Charter School Woodlawn listened to speeches and discussions led by experts on gun control and mass incarceration, as well as a session with former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton.

The speeches and panels on topics such as climate change, education, human rights, and poverty took place in the Ratner Athletic Center and Gordon Parks Assembly Hall at the Lab Schools.

Principal Stephanie Weber organized U-High’s involvement and invited 13 U-High students who have participated in the civic engagement internship to attend the opening and closing plenary sessions.

These students went to  the events along with more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students from across the nation and 145 countries. This was the first time the event was held in Chicago.

A Day of Action Oct. 21, where attendees volunteered in their communities, followed Friday and Saturday’s speeches and discussions.

“One takeaway for me would definitely be how strongly Hillary and Chelsea talked about vaccinations,” said U-High sophomore Aditya Badlani, who had participated in the civic engagement internship. “It was very shocking to hear that places in our own country have lower vaccination rates than [developing] countries. I definitely support them in trying to expand the countries’ vaccination program”

In the Closing Plenary session Oct. 20, former President Clinton told the audience, “If you are breathing, you can change tomorrow.”

U-High senior Dania Baig, who attended a plenary session about gun violence, echoed President Clinton’s sentiment, feeling that the sessions showed the university’s faith in students to learn from the past and use their resources to create a better future.

“I think it’s amazing that the university extended this opportunity to Lab students. There are so many of us I know that want reform, that want change, and are doing what they can, but there’s only so much we can do as high-schoolers,” she said. “The University extending that invitation to us, as well as Woodlawn students, tells us that the university believes the ideas and inspiration we can gain from these sessions will benefit the city and country as a whole — and gives us motivation and hope as the next generation, as some of us are voting for the first time, or just starting to think about these issues critically.”

Three dozen other Lab and Woodlawn charter school students attended by invitation to observe breakout discussion sessions on topics such as mass incarceration, gun control and organization. The sessions were also held in Gordon Parks Assembly Hall.

One of the participants, U-High sophomore Destiney Williams, said, “I feel that knowing more about youth incarceration and how there are so many things that could change the statistics was really powerful.”