The Council for the Great City Schools student town hall meeting will stream live on Friday, October 26 at 1:30 PM Central at

When Superintendent Dr. Tom Ahart attends the Council of the Great City Schools’ 62nd Annual Fall Conference in Baltimore later this month, he won’t be the only DMPS representative there.

Two juniors from Roosevelt High School/Central Academy, Fez Zafar and Esther Ubadigbo, will join him there and play prominent roles in a live streamed town hall event scheduled for Friday, October 26th.

An all-student panel will focus on civic engagement, get out-the-vote efforts, social justice, gun violence and immigration, among other issues. Fez will be the moderator and Esther will be one of eight student panelists from urban school districts across the country.

CGCS notes that with “the rise of the March for Our Lives movement following the 17 students and staff fatally gunned down at school last February in Parkland, FL, a panel of urban students will discuss a variety of student concerns ahead of the midterm elections.”

Fez is the junior class president at Roosevelt and the lone student member of the Iowa Board of Education. He’s got prior experience with extracurricular activity on a national scale.

Esther serves on Roosevelt’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. She’s a premier sprinter/hurdler on the track team, just as might be expected of a young woman in a hurry to overcome injustice. We remember crossing paths with her, too, a few years back when she was role modeling Cleopatra at Hillis Elementary School.

How does either of them have time to facilitate nationwide discussions about problems that adults are supposed to be handling?

“You make time for what matters to you,” said Esther, who doesn’t necessarily expect that her peers from around the country will be like-minded when they get together in Baltimore.

“Actually, I hope there will be disagreement between those of us on the panel,” she said. “We can model what the whole country needs to do, which is talk to one another respectfully.”

Fez echoed that notion. “There is more that unites us than divides us,” he said. “We’re more similar than we realize.”

When he says we, it’s citizens Fez is talking about, of all political stripes. His parents are from Pakistan and Esther’s are Nigerian. The two couldn’t be more All-American, not yet old enough to vote themselves, but doing everything they can to encourage others to while chomping at the bit to get even more involved than they already are.

Dr. Ahart expects the duo will make him, and DMPS, look good on the national stage.

“There’s no doubt,” he said. “We have so much to learn from students like these two. I’ve told them that if this town hall panel goes as well as I expect, an event like this might become part of the annual agenda. We as educators need to do a better job of listening to our kids and involving them more.”

When they get back from Baltimore, and catch up on their schoolwork, there will be a few days left to tie up loose ends for another town hall style event Fez is coordinating in connection with the Iowa gubernatorial election that’s only three weeks away. Stay tuned for details on that front. First things first, though, and there’s this event in Baltimore, a panel discussion at a national conference of educators, where Fez and Esther promised they’d come and see what they can do.

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