Four Students from Foundation Academies Win Leading Criminal Justice Advocacy Group’s Literary Contest
(TRENTON) – This week, four high school students at Foundation Academies – a high-performing public charter school network in Trenton – were honored by the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow’s Greater Trenton Chapter for their poems highlighting critical issues like mass incarceration and discrimination.
Victoria King, a sophomore at Foundation Academy Collegiate (FAC), won first prize for a powerful poem about the long history of systemic racism and mass incarceration in the U.S. FAC senior Raymond Villegas, sophomore Favour Ngige and junior Tajir Reynolds all placed 2nd and 3rd in the contest. All four students won cash prizes of up to $200.
“Being able to share my poetry in this setting with peers who are just as passionate as I am was truly inspiring,” said King. “I’m grateful for the time and space to discuss and express my complex emotions around discrimination not just in the world around me but also in my own life. This contest showed me that if I work hard enough, my voice can and will get out there and impact other people. To me, the essence of poetry and art is to make others think, and this contest gave me the ability to do so.”
“We are so proud of the incredible work of Victoria, Raymond, Favour and Tajir who have stood up and spoken out against systemic racism in such powerful yet personal ways,” said Colleen DiDonato, an English & Civic Service Learning Teacher at Foundation Academies. “Through this service learning project, our students found their voices advocating for themselves and their communities, and realized their collective power. Literature has long been a catalyst for social change – we know this is just their first step in building a more equitable society for all.”
The students’ poems were a result of a group, Urban Voices, formed by FAC junior Briana Araya which seeks to "to educate and encourage teens to use their voice to raise awareness about mass incarceration and discrimination." Araya designed lessons and activities for fellow students and hosted virtual sessions about the systematic issues associated with mass incarceration and discrimination. Following the sessions, students worked on their submissions for the contest.
*** A clip of the reading of King’s first-place-winning poem can be found here.***
About Foundation Academies
Foundation Academies is the largest and highest-ranking K-12 free public charter school in Trenton, NJ. Founded in 2007, Foundation Academies currently serves more than 1,000 students across two campuses. Despite markedly less funding than Trenton district schools ($7,317 less per pupil), Foundation Academies’ dedicated teachers and scholars are proving that all children, irrespective of race, gender, or socioeconomic background can succeed at a great public school. 100% of Foundation Academy Collegiate graduates are accepted to college. For more, visit: foundationacademies.org.