December Student of the Month: Kadiatou Sacko
DECEMBER STUDENT OF THE MONTH
Name: Kadiatou Sacko
School: Palumbo High School
Nominated By: Charlie McGeehan –
Social Science & US History Teacher
When you think of a change-maker, you might envision someone iconic, with a forceful presence and an almost militant dedication to their cause. So when you meet Kadiatou, it may come as a surprise that she’s more joyful than authoritative. But make no mistake, she is an element of change. She’s a serious student, with a keen focus on addressing social injustice. She just does it all with a great sense of humor and calm empathy.
This fall, Kadiatou showed her commitment to making a change beyond the classroom in a number of impressive ways. Inspired by watching people in her family not be able to vote, she made it her personal mission to make sure her peers didn’t miss their opportunity to have their voices heard. She worked with a group of her fellow National Honor Society members in what became Palumbo’s first student-led voter registration drive. In less than two weeks, Kadiatou and her peers registered more than 50% of the school’s eligible voters. Her nominator, Social Studies teacher Charlie McGeehan, shared “Kadiatou was committed to this work, showing up daily and often talking about how she might convince even more 12th graders to register.”
Kadiatou also joined Mr. McGeehan and fellow Palumbo teacher Clarice Brazas on 2 student and alumni panels on racism in schools for Tune-Up Tuesday. In front of over 80 teachers from across the District, Kadiatou spoke frankly about her own experience in schools, and gave concrete ideas for educators to use to address and confront manifestations of racism in their schools and classrooms. For many students and adults, speaking up in front of a crowd isn’t easy, but Kadiatou rose to the occasion, balancing her comments sagely, conveying her thoughts firmly while remaining optimistic. “Teachers who attended found these sessions useful, and many said that they wished more educators could hear from students in this way,” said Mr. McGeehan with clear admiration.
Kadiatou is already researching her next big cause; how lack of appropriate school funding impacts minority groups and how they learn here in our school district.
According to the group of current and former teachers who contributed to her nomination, Kadiatou is a student that educators at Palumbo feel lucky to teach. She is described as “a caring, empathetic, silly, and powerful force in the classroom. She comes to class every day with a smile and positive energy – which uplifts students and teachers alike. Her work is analytical, thoughtful, and very creative. She is a motivated student, and does not shy away from asking hard questions of her teachers or peers, and actively interrogates power and injustice.”
We asked Kadiatou to share her thoughts on a few questions about the Senior of the Month award and what it meant to her.
- What does being named Student of the Month mean to you, and why do you think you were nominated?
I just think it’s about celebrating who I am and all that I do here at Palumbo. I’m a high achiever and I love to encourage fellow students to speak up on social issues. I take initiative – I like to be first to jump into a project or a cause. And, I’ve been told I have a great personality – I like being the brightest in the room!
Explained Mr. McGeehan, “Kadiatou brings a great energy to the room; and a number of other teachers shared that input – she has an awesome sense of humor and levity while also being very studious and earnest about her work, about providing insights, tackling social issues, and having critical conversations. It’s an amazing balance for a student to have, and it’s not very common – it really makes her stand out.”
2. What is one thing you’d like to share about yourself that most people don’t know about you?
I’m creative; especially when it comes to music. I play a whole bunch of instruments, because I like to dabble and try everything. I took clarinet for three years then tried piano. I’m not great at any of them – I prefer to think of myself as a jack of all trades. I like to try new things as long as I’m trying new things and having fun.
3. What do you enjoy most when you are not at school?
I love listening to music – Drake is my favorite. But I’m also into Kendric Lamar and J. Cole. I love the way music makes me feel – it’s an escape from things. I like to dance around!
4. In your opinion, what is the best thing about attending school at Palumbo?
I’ve never been to a school like Palumbo – this is as diverse as it gets, and here, our different races and cultures can really coexist. It’s like a family. We always come out and support each other, and the causes we believe in, like environmental rights.
It’s a great place to be. There’s positive energy here.
And the teachers are great. I really like computer science – Mr. Wiessmann pushes us to try and be our best. He wants us to even out the demographics – wants to see women and people of color get into computers. And I love social science because I get graded to talk – I do like to talk!
5. In your opinion, what is one thing that the School District could do to improve our service to students?
Giving us more resources. Get more money for our students and use it better. There are powerful students here, and we deserve more. If we had more to work with, then we could do more, be more. There are lots of diamonds in the rough among our students but if they don’t get the financial support they deserve, they won’t ever be everything they could be.
Kadiatou, keep working on behalf of the causes you believe in! Congratulations!