High school voices join the chorus

Lenny poses with construction worker Djhun Kpa in downtown Durham. Mayor Bill Bell commended Durham for its recent construction boom in his State of the City address, promising to continue encouraging construction in an environmentally sustainable manner. (Photo by Anna James, Riverside High School, The Pirate’s Hook).


Editor’s note: A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to talk story ideas with Hillside High students. There I spoke with a student driven to write a story worthy of publication in her school newspaper. I wanted to see the student’s story in the Hillside Chronicle as well, but also wanted to see more high school students’ work in The VOICE. While the majority of VOICE reporters are only in Durham for a few months, these students live here. And I’m thrilled that they’re making their voices heard.

Amber Younger, Staff Writer & Photographer



by Tim McElroy

Southern School of Energy & Sustainability

The Spartan Spear


Pieces and pieces

of speeches

fill up the darkest reaches

of my mind

from “4 score and 7 years ago”

to “I have a dream”

and I beam with joy to see

the advancement we’ve made.

Some would say nothing’s changed

“Just look at the news” they’ll say

with a frown

“What about Trayvon Martin or

Mike Brown?”

“But that’s exactly my point” I say

with a smile

“These tragedies may fill us with bile,

but they make the news

no longer are they everyday norms

we’ve lit the fuse

we’re on the right track

heading back

to a time where no one cared

about color or race

the speeches are proof

no longer are we fighting over slaves

no more anonymous graves

But this fight is far from over; however

A journey of a thousand miles

begins with a single step.


Natural Hair

by MeSiona Cunningham

Hillside High School

The Hillside Chronicle

Natural hair is not a new concept, but it is the newest embraced hairstyle for Hillside High School’s female students. This trend is not just a phase – this is a permanent shift.

The dance teacher at Hillside High School, Nicole Oxendine, says, “I’m in the process of making a dance piece in the spring concert about natural hair. The dance concert is a wonderful platform to affirm natural hair textures and brown skin tones! I went to Hillside High School and in my senior year I went natural because I wanted to love my hair.”

She says, “I don’t think there are enough positive images of Black people wearing natural hair. It seems that the images are light skin and straight, light-colored hair!”

Many females worldwide are going natural, but the interesting thing about Hillside females is that this is a high school, this is a place where people find themselves. It is phenomenal that these females are “following their own beat” as Kevina Lee, senior at Hillside says.

But why now? Why are so many girls going natural in high school?

For many students at Hillside High such as Kevina and Toy Lee, a senior, getting a relaxer as a young girl wasn’t a choice – their mothers did it. They are natural as of today.

Toy says, “I went natural because my sister and mentor went natural, and I saw how easy it was for them so I decided to cut off my hair…and I am happy because now I can do more stuff with it.”

Having relaxed hair is “the most common solution” for hair but realizing “natural [hair] is better” is not only good for your hair, but also for your body as Ms. Oxendine says.

“I didn’t like my relaxed hair,” she says.

She had a friend who cut her hair in high school, and she respected her courage to do it and followed in her steps!

Victoria Williams, senior at Hillside, says, “I went natural my sophomore year. I just didn’t want perms anymore. I like my natural hair. It has more personality.”

Other students like Avia Dolberry, a junior, said, “I cut my hair sophomore year because I basically just wanted a change, and I didn’t like flat ironing my hair. Now when I get in the pool I don’t have to worry about it because this is as puffy as it gets.”

In addition to the practical motives behind the transition to natural hair, the natural shift mimicked a transition to adulthood and independence for these natural girls.

“I used to get perms because it was the thing, but now I’m following my own beat. It’s 2015 and we have to support Black excellence,” says Kevina.

Mariama Moody, former math teacher at Hillside, says, “In decades past, I would say that many minorities, especially women, got perms to blend in with their Caucasian counterparts.”

This is widespread change in America, accepting black beauty and it is an honor for this change to start with the youth. This is a movement based on health, self-image and self-acceptance.

All this over hair? Hillside Chronicle asked staff and students, “Is hair important, and if so, why?”

Elise McCollum, senior: “Hair completes you.”

Victoria Williams, senior: “Hair is important because it sets you apart”

Nicole Oxendine, dance teacher: “[Hair] is what crowns us. However, I do believe it’s just hair, so I don’t believe in holding onto it when it’s unhealthy.”

Mariama Moody, former math teacher: “Hair is extremely important because it is a reflection and extension of oneself. Accepting and loving your hair, regardless of what state you choose to keep it in, shows that you love yourself! I believe the issue of hair & hair care is especially important to women in the African-American culture because of the historical attacks on our self-image from outside sources.​”


Immigrant students face additional college application barriers

Riverside High School

The Pirate’s Hook

(Editor’s Note: The writer’s name has been kept confidential for the family’s security. A longer version of this story is available at www.riverside.dpsnc.net/   The Spanish language translation follows this English language version.)

Many students have the dream of going to college, but for a large number of immigrant applicants, it is sometimes only that- a dream.

Immigrant applicants can be categorized into two separate types: Undocumented applicants who do not hold legal residency or are applying from their home country, and those who have been granted temporary status by federal programs but are not full citizens. These applicants are commonly referred to as “dreamers,” due to the Dream Act that enacted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) under the Obama administration in 2012.

“The misconception that these students are not legally allowed to attend college needs to be challenged through educational campaigns and through the work of those that advise students, such as counselors and teachers,” said Durham Public School’s English as Second Language Community Liaison, Fernando Campos.

Immigrant applicants have the same pressing questions and worries as many other citizens. They wonder if they will get into the college of their choice, how they will pay for college and wonder what to do if they do not get accepted or cannot attend any college at all.

But the application process is much more intricate than that of a citizen’s. Immigrant students that are legally residing in the U.S. must provide proof of legal residency at the time of their application.

“Providing these documents is an additional hurdle for them,” Campos said.

Undocumented immigrant students go through the same application process as any legal resident or citizen; however, they are not able to provide some of the information that the schools require (like social security numbers) and therefore must disclose their status.

In a few states, this will disqualify them from admission to state schools. In most states, such as North Carolina, they are allowed to attend without restriction, however, they will not qualify for financial aid from federal or often state sources, which makes those colleges inaccessible.

Aside from this, immigrant applicants have outside factors to worry about.

I know that I have to be very careful when filling out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). My mother had to work under the table for ten years before obtaining her legal status and reporting her earnings to the IRS. Needless to say she could face serious consequences.

In certain cases immigrant applicants should be mindful of what information they release. Still, undocumented and legal non-citizen students should not be fearful of releasing information.

“Students should not let fear of exposure during this process keep them from applying to college,” Campos said.

Information provided through FAFSA is never shared with law enforcement officials, neither regarding the student nor the parent. College officials that reveal this type of information could expose themselves to legal action for compromising the privacy of the applicant.

Moreover, colleges are increasingly reaching out to Latino students and would risk a significant public relations backlash if they were believed to be endangering students.

Many immigrant applicants are first generation applicants and want to obtain a higher education to acquire a career that will provide a higher standard of living for their family.

A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States), a study by Jeffery S. Passel and D’vera Cohn, explains that households of undocumented families have almost twice as many workers per household (1.75) than a household of citizens but still make below the median household income that of legal immigrants and citizens.

“Almost all immigrant families are working, but their jobs are low-wage due to lack of documentation/certification and experience,” junior Axel Herrera said.

“They get no benefits or social security. Whatever money they make goes strictly to necessities and bills.”

Some schools require full citizenship or a green card to reward aid, such as Elon University. Legal non-citizen applicants are considered out-of-state for public universities even though many of them have resided in their home state since an early age. At least 17 states have laws permitting undocumented immigrant students and those under DACA to be considered as in-state, but not North Carolina. Without in-state status, undocumented immigrant students generally have to apply to private institutions with larger endowments and better aid programs than public institutions or look at more economical options such as community college. Even in community colleges, students have to pay out of state rates. This makes community college a less practical option.

Community colleges will allow non-documented students to register, but they cannot take a spot that might otherwise go to a legal resident. This forces students to register for classes on the last day, which often means that they cannot take the classes they want to take. There are some routes to entering community colleges without this restriction, such as Durham’s Middle College High School route, but there is limited capacity.

There are also limits as to where an immigrant applicant can apply, no matter how accomplished he or she might be, due to legal status and income.

“I am limited as to what scholarships I qualify for and what schools I can receive aid from,” Herrera explained.

Aside from providing test scores, transcripts and the application itself, the applicant needs to fill out a certificate of finance, international student financial aid packet and on some occasions, both the FAFSA and the CSS PROFILE. On top of that, certain schools require the previous year’s tax return along with wage statements.

For those under DACA, applicants often need to email or call the schools of their choice and explain that they are a legal non-citizen and not an international applicant because that would imply they are applying from a foreign country.

The college application process is stressful enough as it is, even for citizens. Needless to say it is even more so for legal non-citizens.

“They often get the grades and do the work of any other high-achieving students, but find the entry to college blocked for them,” said Campos.


Cómparte el sueño de la universidad

Riverside High School

The Pirate’s Hook

El nombre del escritor se ha mantenido confidencial para la seguridad de la familia. Una versión más larga de esta historia está disponible en www.riverside.dpsnc.net/

Muchos estudiantes tienen el sueño de ir a la universidad, pero para un gran número de solicitantes de inmigrantes, a veces eso es sólo un sueño.

Solicitantes inmigrantes se pueden clasificar en dos tipos: Solicitantes indocumentados que no tienen residencia legal o están aplicando desde su país de origen, y los que han recibido el estatus temporal por los programas federales, pero no son ciudadanos de pleno derecho. Estos solicitantes se conocen comúnmente como “dreamers,” debido al Dream Act que promulgó la Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA) bajo la administración de Obama en 2012.

“La idea de que estos estudiantes no están legalmente autorizados a asistir a la universidad necesita ser desafiada a través de campañas educativas y gracias al trabajo de los que aconsejan a los estudiantes, como consejeros y maestros. “, dijo el enlace del programa Inglés como segunda lengua de las escuelas públicas de Durham, Fernando Campos.

Solicitantes inmigrantes tienen las mismas preguntas apremiantes y preocupaciones como muchos otros ciudadanos. Se preguntan si van a entrar en la universidad de su elección, cómo van a pagar la universidad, y se preguntan qué hacer si ellos no serán aceptados o no pueden asistir a cualquier universidad en absoluto.

Pero el proceso de aplicación es mucho más complejo que el de un ciudadano. Los estudiantes inmigrantes que residan legalmente en los EE.UU. deben proporcionar prueba de residencia legal en el momento de su aplicación.

“La provisión de estos documentos es un obstáculo adicional para ellos”, dijo Campos.

Ciudadanos estudiantes inmigrantes indocumentados pasan por el mismo proceso de solicitud como cualquier residente legal   sin embargo, no son capaces de proporcionar parte de la información que las escuelas requieren (como números de seguro social) y por lo tanto deben revelar su estado.

En unos pocos estados, esto los descalificaría para la admisión a las escuelas estatales. En la mayoría de los estados, como Carolina del Norte, que se les permita asistir sin restricciones, sin embargo, no van a tener derecho a la ayuda financiera de fuentes federales o estatales a menudo, lo que hace que esos colegios sean inaccesibles.

Aparte de esto, los solicitantes inmigrantes tienen factores externos de que preocuparse

Yo sé que tengo que ser muy cuidadoso al llenar la Solicitud Gratuita de Ayuda Federal para Estudiantes (FAFSA). Mi madre tuvo que trabajar bajo la mesa durante diez años antes de obtener su estatus legal y reportar sus ingresos al IRS. No hace falta decir que ella podría enfrentar graves consecuencias.

En ciertos casos inmigrantes solicitantes deben ser conscientes de la información que liberan. Aún así, los estudiantes indocumentados y legales que no son ciudadanos no deben tener miedo de entregar información.

“Los estudiantes no deben dejar que el miedo durante este proceso les evite aplicar a la universidad”, dijo Campos.

La información proporcionada a través de FAFSA nunca se comparte con los funcionarios encargados de hacer cumplir la ley , ni en cuanto al estudiante ni el padre. Funcionarios de la universidad que revelen este tipo de información podrían exponerse a la acción legal por comprometer la privacidad del solicitante.

Por otra parte, las universidades están llegando cada vez más a los estudiantes latinos y correrían el riesgo de una reacción violenta de relaciones públicas significativa si se cree que están poniendo en peligro a los estudiantes.

Muchos solicitantes inmigrantes son candidatos de primera generación y quieren obtener una educación superior para adquirir una carrera que les asegure un nivel de vida más alto para su familia.

Un retrato de inmigrantes no autorizados en los Estados Unidos (Centro Hispano Pew, abril de 2009),un estudio realizado por Jeffrey S. Passel y D’vera Cohn explica que los hogares de las familias indocumentadas tienen casi el doble de trabajadores por hogar (1,75) que en una casa de los ciudadanos, pero todavía hacen debajo del ingreso medio de los hogares de los inmigrantes legales y ciudadanos.

“Casi todas las familias inmigrantes están trabajando pero sus trabajos son de bajos salarios debido a la falta de documentación / certificación y experiencia “, dijo Junior Axel

Herrera.”Ellos no obtienen los beneficios o la seguridad social. Cualquiera que sea el dinero que ganan va estrictamente a las necesidades y proyectos de ley.

“Algunas escuelas requieren ciudadanía plena o una tarjeta verde para otorgar ayuda, como Elon University. solicitantes que no son ciudadanos se consideran fuera del estado para las universidades públicas a pesar de que muchos de ellos han residido en su estado natal desde una edad temprana. Por lo menos 17 estados tienen leyes que permiten a los estudiantes inmigrantes indocumentados y los menores de DACA para ser considerado como en -Estado, pero no Carolina del Norte. Sin estado dentro del estado, en general, tienen que solicitar a las instituciones privadas con donaciones más grandes y mejores programas de ayuda de las instituciones públicas o buscar opciones más económicas como la universidad de la comunidad. Incluso en los colegios comunitarios, los estudiantes tienen que pagar tasas estatales, lo que hace que sea una opción menos práctico.

Los colegios comunitarios permitirán a los estudiantes indocumentados se registren, pero no pueden tomar un lugar que de otro modo podrían al ser residente legal. Esto obliga a los estudiantes a inscribirse en las clases en el último día, que a menudo significa que no pueden tomar las clases que desean tomar. Hay algunas rutas a entrar en los colegios comunitarios sin esta restricción, como la ruta de Middle College High School de Durham, pero tienen una capacidad limitada.

También hay límites en cuanto a que un solicitante inmigrante pueda aplicar, por muy aplicado que él o ella pueda ser, debido a la condición jurídica y los ingresos.

“Estoy limitado en cuanto a las becas para las cual califico y de las escuelas que puedo recibir ayuda , “, explicó Herrera.

Además de proporcionar resultados de las pruebas, transcripciones y la propia solicitud, el solicitante tiene que llenar un certificado de finanzas, paquete de ayuda financiera para estudiantes internacionales y en algunas ocasiones, tanto FAFSA como el CSS PROFILE. Además de eso, algunas escuelas requieren declaración de impuestos del año anterior, junto con las declaraciones de sueldo.

Para los menores de DACA, los solicitantes a menudo tienen que enviar por correo electrónico o llamar a la escuela de su elección (s) y explicar que   es un ciudadanos legal y no un solicitante internacional porque eso implicaría que están aplicando de un país extranjero.

El proceso de solicitud de la universidad es lo suficientemente estresante como lo es incluso para los ciudadanos. . No hace falta decir que es aún más para los que no son ciudadanos legales.

“A menudo se de los grados y el trabajo que hacen otros estudiantes de alto rendimiento, pero encuentran la entrada a la universidad bloqueada para ellos”, dijo Campos editor de la nota.