Cooper HS’s Emakay Dyson Honored for Artwork
In Cooper High School’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class, students discuss everything from the history of Malcolm X, to thought-provoking questions about food.
“Is mac and cheese a main dish or a side,” asked Emakay Dyson, a sophomore. “I want to see people argue about it. Go ahead.”
In Cooper’s AVID class, students build literacy skills and study habits, while also learning how to become leaders.
It’s Dyson’s favorite class.
“You will never find another class that talks about racial injustice, different meanings, finding out what other people are like. You’ll never see that in another class,” Dyson said.
Earlier this year, the nonprofit BestPrep organized a competition where students in this AVID class were asked to share their thoughts on an uncomfortable conversation they’d like to have.
Dyson chose to focus on the topic of generational trauma.
“It’s so important to many communities, especially the Black community, coming from slavery, the Civil Rights Movement,” she said.
While some students wrote essays on the topic, Dyson expressed her thoughts through a painting.
Her painting earned her a trip to the BestPrep Educational Forum at U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 28, where she took first place out of more than 170 students.
The achievement earned her a $2,500 scholarship, and she got to sit on a student panel at the event alongside author and former NFL player Emmanuel Acho.
“It’s not an easy topic to cover and she, I thought, did it brilliantly and succinctly in one painting,” said Brooke Schaffer, a teacher at Cooper. “[Emakay] got the message across that impacted her and the entire BestPrep community.”
Dyson still has two more years before she graduates, and she wants to use that time to shed a positive light on Cooper High School.
“I want to put Cooper on the map because, honestly, our school is seen as ghetto or under-achieving,” she said. “I want to put Cooper on the map as, this is a good school. We are extremely tight-knit here. It’s a community you will not find anywhere else.”