Students Stand Up: How Student Activism Can Make an Impact


Ryleigh Underwood

STANDING TOGETHER: This photo contains the two main contributors in the process of the approval course, student and teacher; Stroud (left) and Wagner (right) together in his classroom.

Jillian Grimes, News Editor

The Carlisle Area School Board approved AP African American Studies, an AP course that many students desire, at a board meeting on April 20. The course was endorsed by the Board with a unanimous decision of 8-0. Carlisle is 1 of only 700 schools in the country now offering this course to students in the coming school year. Only 60 of those 700 schools were part of the first year pilot during the 2022-2023 academic year. 

This course has stirred controversy states such as Florida, with Governor Ron DeSantis blocking the offering of this course to willing students in his “Stop Woke” bill.

According to Local 21 News, a student spoke on the objective and impact of this course, nationally, during the meeting.

“It’s focus on both the experiences of enslaved Black people in America and on the experience of Black people when they weren’t enslaved in Africa, move away from America’s current neo-centric curriculum and thus America’s current neo-centric understanding of both American and world history”.

The AP course will entail 4 main units: Origins of African Diaspora; Freedom, Enslavement and Resistance; the Practice of Freedom; along with Movement and Debates.

Over the years of their school careers at CHS, students have pushed for more inclusive history courses; to display the genuine events and impacts that they held for those involved, specifically events involving African Americans. Due to most of the base curriculum taught to students being sourced from European history, which is inherently white-focused.

One specific CHS student has advocated for differences in curriculum since his Freshman year. Dorian Stroud, now Senior and Treasurer of the Black Students Union, for his Junior year, has been a steadfast advocate for a more inclusive course curriculum.

“It shows that our voices matter, and we can actually make a change.”

— Stroud

Stroud was interviewed by ABC 27 for an article on the approval of the new AP course and the push for increased representation within history classes.

“I believe that the benefits of offering a more widespread curriculum are that we get to learn more about other cultures and religions that are not our own. This will allow us to be more open minded and change the way we look at and see other people and cultures,” said Stroud. “Especially in a place like Carlisle where we are [an] insane blend of culture and overall diversity.”

Stroud was the main working piece in the initial movement of AP African American Studies. He had gone to Kevin Wagner, social studies program advisor, with his concerns and interests. A simple conversation about more diverse history was all it took to get the ball rolling.

Wagner stated, “As a social studies teacher, it really makes your heart sing that they’re (students) taking an active, vested interest in what they’re learning in the classroom.”

Wagner was receptive to Stroud’s concerns, and the social studies department went on to assemble a panel of students to further consider what they wanted implemented.

More students began to speak up about their desire for the carry out of the AP course. Their words established the attention of Superintendent Colleen Friend, who heavily favored the idea, signaling to the board that approving the course would be the right decision for students.

As a 2023 Senior Stroud will not be eligible to take the AP class but he said this about his impact in the changes he started and continued with.

“Everything that we do in life, we’re not always going to always to see the changes of it… If I can’t see the changes, I want to make sure that somebody else can see it.”