Students Offer Views of Connection and Hunches with the YNOW Program

This  is a guest blog post written by two students from our Youth Narrating Our World program.  YNOW is The OpEd Project’s thought leadership program for Chicago public high schools, made possible by funding from the McCormick Foundation.

Jessica Pope is a 15-year-old sophomore at Lindblom Math & Science Academy in Chicago.

Convening 2, themed “Connection,” was awesome. It made me look at things in life in different perspectives. One thing I enjoyed is when we spoke about the topics we had a hunch about. This was amazing because it helped us all take something that was already powerful to something that is even more meaningful and thought out.

We also interacted with each other more, which was outstanding because it helped all of us be more open about sharing ideas. After we have the last convening in January I will honestly be devastated because I have enjoyed the company of the other students who had wonderful ideas and thoughts about the way the world worked.

This convening was different from the first one because we united as one. Saturday was helpful because I am now more grounded and realize why my voice, mind, and words are important to the world. Journalism is something I will definitely be considering in the future.


Martin Calderon is a 16-year-old junior at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago.

High school students from Chicago representing Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, Walter Payton College Preparatory Academy, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, and Young Women’s Leadership Charter School met at Columbia College on Saturday, November 23rd for the second convening of The Youth Narrating Our World thought leadership program.

The YNOW program is a part of The OpEd Project funded by the McCormick Foundation and directed by Michele Weldon and Deborah Douglas. The students started off by having a quick breakfast and then coming up with definitions for hunches, and deciding which hunches they had that could develop into ideas that could be shared with the public through written opinion pieces and more.

Then they talked about the difference between topics and ideas. A topic can be a news hook and is very concrete; while an idea is transparent and can include themes and hunches affecting many members of society all over the country and even the world.

Afterwards, the students learned when to pitch their opinions to the news media at the right moment. They learned to hijack the news by using the news at current time to their advantage to state their opinion on prominent and obscure social issues.

After lunch, the students split into two groups: one group’s students were interviewed on video by Ms. Douglas and the other group led by Ms. Weldon helped each other on their drafts by sharing both confirmations and complications.

The last part of the convening focused on a writer’s pitch to an editor. The group learned to have an effective pitch by being timely, showing credibility, and expressing an unexpected point of view.


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