VHS Embraces Students of Color With Black Student Achievement Plan


Lourdes Bullo, Features Editor

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“Wanting to be there for students of color has been a job that I’ve always wanted to do.”

 – BSAP Counselor Ceinna Bush

Karen Brooks is a familiar face at Venice High, floating into different classrooms throughout the day and providing students with advice or anecdotes from her life. 

A part of Venice High’s Black Student Achievement Plan team, Ms. Karen, as she is most commonly referred to, cares a lot about making sure the Black student experience is the best it can be in the public education setting.

 “I came back to a certain school on the east side of LAUSD,” she said. “There was no Black Student Union. You had Mexican American heritage clubs, you had Asian clubs, you had different clubs where there was no Black Student Union club, or just a student focused organization on Black culture.”

The Black Student Achievement Plan, also known as BSAP, is a multi faceted initiative, aiding all students in the long run, but focusing on the enrichment and success of Black students in LAUSD. This is the first year this program is in effect, and Venice is acting as one of the first test schools.

“We all want certain greatness, but just because of historical things, ‘Black’ has always been viewed negatively,” Ms. Karen added. “So this is just a way to make everything equitable, equal, and fair.”

Another BSAP team member is Ceinna Bush, BSAP’s resident counselor, an individual who always makes time for her students.

Bush first heard of the opportunity to join the team from college counselor Dr. Renysha Scott. 

“I’ve known Dr. Scott since before I went to college, which is the crazy part,” she said. “She let me know that BSAP was becoming an initiative, or a program throughout LAUSD, and I let her know that I was looking for a counseling position.” 

But the position being open was not the only reason why Bush wanted to get involved.

“I just feel like I never had somebody I could talk to when I was having a bad day,” she said. “Or if I needed some type of resource, I didn’t know exactly who to go to. And that kind of bothered me.”

“I saw that students and staff members were the ones to advocate for it, and that was very empowering to me. I was like, ‘Okay, this is something that I want to be a part of.’ Because I feel it’s really important as a person to be able to advocate for themselves.”

There’s been many moving parts to this ongoing initiative, but the question of the program’s longevity is still prominent, Bush said.

“I think we will be here for a long time,” she said. “And that’s the hope. It’s kind of like we’ve been waiting for this moment, to have something like this for our Black students. And now that we have it, I feel like it should be here for a long period of time.”

“To me, there’s no reason for them to take it away. It’s like you brought it here for a purpose. Now we’re going to serve that purpose.” 

It’s important to know that this program doesn’t solely involve Black and Brown students. It’s been a requirement for all teachers here to implement certain racially-informed practices within their instruction.

“I think implementing thoughtfully responsive practices and culturally relevant material is a good thing because I feel like educators are understanding where their students are coming from now,” Bush said. “Also understanding the history or the background of their students—everybody comes from different ethnicities, different backgrounds, and each has a different type of history.” 

The future of BSAP seems very optimistic, with warm feelings all around, from staff to the students involved.

“I just want to say that I appreciate my BSAP team. I’m happy that we’re here. I know some days I questioned myself, if I’m making a difference,” Bush said. “But the fact that the students are letting me know and my staff are letting me know in administration that I am is empowering to me.

“We empower our students as well. I’m just really grateful for this opportunity to be here at Venice, and I know BSAP is for African-American and Black students, but I hope all of you know I’m grateful just to be here, and to provide support for all students.”