Lane senior creates club to unite Chicago teens

By Olivia Fergus-Brummer, Managing Editor

Washington is President of Lane’s Student Council Executive Board and a part of the Black Student Association.

As Armani Washington and her friends checked out at a local grocery store, they engaged in a casual discussion with the cashier about a recent article on rising student loan debt. Suddenly, a voice behind them chimed in. 

“Yeah, like you guys would know,” the man said. “You guys are what, 15 or 16? You don’t know what’s going on.”

Though disappointed, Washington, Div. 076, was not at all surprised by the patronizing encounter. Throughout the past year, she withstood several occasions in which adults had disregarded her contributions to discussions on current events and social equality. 

While attending a neighborhood meeting in which an alderman was campaigning, Washington  had noticed that he did not call on any of the teens who had their hands up. At an event in which Mayor Lightfoot was speaking, she noted that Lightfoot continuously stressed the need for adults to create change, which frustrated many of her friends in attendance. 

However, this grocery store confrontation sparked an idea. 

“I thought, ‘I know there are other students who have experienced adults thinking they don’t know anything,’” Washington said. 

Through bouncing ideas off of her friends in Lane’s Black Student Association, Washington gained confirmation that the experience was far too common. With the help of her mom and a few friends, she outlined her idea for Teen Chicago-Core, an organization that would unite teens across the city and give them a platform to discuss their opinions on social issues affecting Chicago. 

Although an official meeting has yet to take place, @teenccore has already amassed more than 200 followers on Instagram. She has also received emails from students at Walter Payton, Lincoln Park, Northside, and Jones regarding their interest in creating teen C-core clubs at their respective schools. 

Washington hopes that Lane’s Teen C-core club will allow students to find commonality with their peers. Through communicating their contrasting beliefs, Washington believes students can gain a better understanding of each other. 

“I would love for kids at Lane to see Teen C-core as a way to find unity with one another,” she said. 

Teen C-core will offer students multiple leadership positions. While elected school representatives will oversee the Teen C-core clubs at each Chicago high school, a treasurer will manage fundraisers organized by the greater Chicago club. Washington already has several fundraising ideas, such as a bake sale and participating in Toys for Tots, which would aid people in need across the city. 

Along with creating a more unified Lane community, Washington believes her organization will motivate teens to think more independently and create their own voice. 

“A lot of us listen to our parents and adults and people that we’re around and we just take that as our own belief,” Washington said. 

Although Washington is a senior, she plans on remaining president after she graduates. Even while in college, she hopes to support the organization’s growth.  

“It’s not going to stop this year,” Washington said. “There are so many good candidates in the class of 2021 to make it even better.”

In addition to encouraging teenagers to take action in their communities, Washington hopes that Teen C-core will spark empowerment in children. 

“We want little kids to be able to look up to us because kids don’t see many organizations where teens are making change,” Washington said. “It’s always adults.” 

Washington is adamant that Teen C-core is not to be overlooked. The first meeting of Teen C-core is tentatively scheduled for the first week of December. She encourages anyone interested  to provide their contact information at club days and attend the first meeting.

“Everyone has one idea that they believe would make Chicago a better place,” Washington said, “and I believe that one idea should be brought to Teen C-core.”