NextGen News

May 28th, 2021 | By | Category: BLTN NextGen, Spring 2021

The BLTN’s youth leadership crew, BLTN NextGen, adapted quickly and meaningfully to a year without face-to-face gathering opportunities. In the early fall, our Youth Advisory Board selected its co-chairs, welcomed new members, and drew up a plan to have individual sites host virtual cross-site gatherings. Youth Advisors turned to writing and sharing together as the mainstay of monthly events. Meanwhile they helped to pilot BreadWeb, BLTN and BLSE’s new digital gathering space, where they shared site reports and resources between meetings.

Here’s a timeline of some of the year’s key events.


Leah, Lena, and Faith gave September staged readings of the pieces they had been working on over the summer with BLSE Professor, Acting Ensemble leader, and BLTN Faculty Liaison, Jonathan Fried.

October and monthly: Youth Advisory Board Meetings characterized by land acknowledgments from a different location each month, personal check-ins, writing prompts and sharing, site updates, and network-wide business.

In November, NextGen, our Atlanta site, brought the network for the first cross-site convening. Cameron and Cheyenne from the NextGen-ATL Mays High School cohort premiered Teach Love: Exploring Ways to End Gun Violence in Our Community, a documentary

Teach Love: Exploring Ways to End Gun Violence in Our Community premiered on November 12, 2021 by Carmeron W., and Cheyenne P. with Dr. Jacqueline Jones Royster, of the Mays High School Cohort of BLTN NextGen – ATL.

They were followed by Shaleisa Brewer and youth from the NextGen-ATL Booker T. Washington cohort who gave us experiences leading to understanding how students lend their imaginations to capturing the stories of Washington alumni “narrators” in the oral history project, These Halls Can Talk.

Also, in November, Leah, Lena, and Faith presented their final monologues at the opening for Joy Harjo at ¡Confluencia,! the NCTE Annual Convention.

December’s cross-site event, hosted by Jackie Schieremberrg, Gladdys and Faith of Lawrence, focused on the Mask Project in Lawrence, where youth used writing and art to influence friends and family to increase mask wearing in order to mitigate Covid-19 spread. See Jackie’s piece on the Mask Project in this issue. LINK.

With the new year, NextGen – Louisville hosted a January cross-site Family Literacy Night with writing prompts asking us to think about the major changes brought on by the pandemic, and what “new normals” we find ourselves embracing or enduring.

The youth advisors convened the network for “A Day in the Pandemic” in February, an event that was made especially rich by the presence of students from BLTN fellow Sheila Lupao’s class at Rusinga School in Nairobi, Kenya.

While the Youth Advisory Board met in March, the next cross-site event came in April, when Lena led us to write and share about the role of storytelling in our identity formation, as she told the story of her leading role in the formation of Mi Vida, Vi Voz, a non-profit supporting writing and storytelling with migrant youth across Vermont.

In the final months of our year, we hope to hear from NextGen-South Carolina and their collaboration with Clemson University and Write to Change to create a workshop where youth and teachers will work alongside one another to build structures to support social and emotional learning at Aiken High School and beyond.

We created the map below to give a gloss on each site’s focus at the beginning of the school year. It’s rewarding to take stock of how much each site accomplished, against many odds.

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