By Tawanda W. Johnson,
Special to the Afro

A new student chapter of the NAACP is being launched at Parkville High School, the first of its kind in Baltimore County. 

The students say they are eager to have their voices heard and make a difference in their communities– even at such a young age. 

“I am honestly very excited,” said Kayla Tabernero, 16, a junior, who is serving as president of the chapter.  “It’s important to have different perspectives to develop solutions to various issues,” she explained. 

Currently, 25 students represent the founding members of the chapter. Plans are underway to hold a kick-off event next month to celebrate, featuring local and state dignitaries. 

Nichelle Broomer-Hicks, an English teacher at the high school, said a colleague told her about a similar chapter in Ohio, which led her to want to start one at Parkville. 

“This is a big deal,” said Broomer-Hicks, excitedly. “This is an opportunity for our youth to be heard.”

Broomer-Hicks said the students held their first meeting and plan to address topics such as gun violence, divisions among students, racial sensitivity with teachers, anti-semitism and leadership opportunities. Additionally, the students have established various subcommittees for their chapter, including ones focused on political action, youth employment and juvenile justice.

“Our students will be out in the community. We will be at school board and county meetings,” said Broomer-Hicks. 

Kayla Drummond, a 16-year-old junior, is a student Board Member of Baltimore County Public Schools. (Photo credit: Nichelle Boomer-Hicks)

Kayla Drummond, a 16-year-old junior, said she wants to see her school united. 

“I want to get everyone together, not just having different races and grade levels (be together),” she said. 

Jeremiah Hammond, a 17-year-old junior, echoed Drummond.

Jeremiah Hammond, a 17-year-old junior at Parkville High School looks forward to participating in the new NAACP chapter because he doesn’t want people to feel left out and unheard because of who they are. (Photo credit: Nichelle Boomer-Hicks)

“I don’t want to see people in separate groups, being left out of things because they are not this type or that type,” he said. 

Both of the students said they remain inspired by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as they take on their new roles as founding members of the student chapter. 

“He was a large part of the Civil Rights Movement, and today, African Americans wouldn’t have a lot of the opportunities that we do without him,” said Drummond.  

“He definitely led the way,” added Hammond. 

Hammond and Drummond also said the chapter can serve as a springboard for developing strong leaders. 

“When I saw how it would help students become advocates and advocate for themselves and others, I wanted to be a part of making that happen,” said Drummond. 

The new chapter is being supported by the Baltimore County NAACP chapter, branch number 7010. 

Raymond English, membership chair for the county chapter, said he was ecstatic when Broomer-Hicks contacted him about establishing the new chapter for youths in the area.

“I’m excited, and I know our whole branch is excited to work in conjunction with the student chapter,” English told the AFRO.

He added that Parkville has become more diverse, with the number of Black and Hispanic students increasing dramatically. English explained that the student chapter can play a role in making teens more aware of concerns impacting youth throughout the county.

English added that students of color are especially confronted with issues such as “violence and discrimination.” 

Broomer-Hicks said she remains optimistic about what the new chapter will accomplish.

“I am excited to see the narrative (about our youth) change from negative to positive,” she said. “The percentage of youth who are doing well is extremely high compared to those who are going in the other direction.”

Lear more about the Baltimore County NAACP here

NOTE: This article has been corrected to clarify that Parkville has the first high school branch of NAACP in Baltimore County. The first NAACP chapter for youth in Baltimore County is Randallstown Youth Council #78AG-B.