West Side Leadership Academy team, l-r, Rodrigo Lopez, McKayla Hair, Destiny Burnett, and Joel Moore

West Side Leadership Academy wins inaugural Steel City Black Knowledge Bowl

Contributed By: The 411 News

Competition renews friendly rivalry between high schools

Roy Hamilton and Lisa Bennett got a chance to relax and reflect after Saturday’s Steel City Black Knowledge Bowl that saw 4 high schools compete on facts about African-American history, life, and culture.

Hamilton, the guidance counselor at 21st Century Charter School came up with the idea and Bennett was one of the co-sponsors. Both remembered when Gary schools came together regularly for city-wide contests.

“We used to have ROTC, band competitions, and Black history contests every year,” said Bennett, a board member with GAPS (Gary Alumni Pathways for Students).

“This is the first time in nearly a decade that Gary has seen its high schools come together for an event. We need to bring these competitions back,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton took his idea to Indiana University Northwest where it gained support. Dorothy Frink, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at IU Northwest said the IUN Black Students Union liked the idea and received major funding of $7,000 from the Indiana University Black Philanthropy Circle.

Three Gary schools – 21st Century Charter, Gary Lighthouse College Prep Charter, and West Side Leadership Academy – and Calumet Township’s Calumet New Tech High School competed in preliminary rounds to get to the finals. West Side won the trophy with 21st Century as the runner-up.

Beverly Goodson, the team’s coach and West Side history teacher described its winning strategy. “We were ready for the competition. Along with a study guide provided for the contest, I added 300 questions. Then each team member competed against each other like contestants on the game show Jeopardy. The day before the bowl, the team competed against staff members and blew them away.”

Goodson challenges her students to excel. “The first day of school, my students get my cell phone number. They can call me every day after school until 7pm. And on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I hold Zoom sessions they can join if they need more help.”

Gary Lighthouse College Prep, l-r, Hassena Shabazz, Makayla Catchings, Chyna Young, and Shaniya Young

21st Century Charter School, l-r, Jordan Jackson, Keavon Williams, Greer Adams, and O’Jaya Hegwood

Calumet New Tech High School, l-r, Howard Davis, Kyshaun Kyser, Juanita Pointer, and Brooklynn Morris

Roy Hamilton presents trophy to West Side Leadership Academy; at right is Beverly Goodson, the team’s coach

Story Posted:02/26/2024

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