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Town Hall Aims To Motivate Students With Untapped Talent

– via  BALTIMORE CBS Station (WJZ)

Some Baltimore City high school students got a big dose of inspiration Wednesday at a town hall designed to set their sights on the future.

We’re just weeks away from graduation for many of those students, and all of them are now paired with a mentor to help them plan the future.

It was a room full of ambition and untapped talent from Baltimore’s next generation.

“From my neighborhood, when you look around, you don’t see a lot of success stories,” said Renaissance Academy student Uthman Al-Ahmari.

The CLICKS Justice and Diversity Teen Town Hall helps motivate young men and women with hands-on workshops.

“If you learn to reach out and ask for help, there’s so many people in the community that are willing and want to help you,” said Cassandra Sneed Ogden, with the Council on Legal Education Opportunity.

Some of those mentors were once in their shoes, like former Globetrotter Charles “Choo” Smith.

“I was that,” said Smith. “I was that untapped talent from Sandtown, just trying to believe in myself.”

The students come from seven different Baltimore City high schools, each one facing their own challenges.

Including Renaissance Academy, where students, like Jasmine Dixon, are still coping with the stabbing death of a classmate last year.

“He didn’t get to walk across the stage,” Dixon said. “Actually, I have a shirt that says, ‘Graduate for Jolley’ on it.”

These carefully selected students are not letting the hard times stop them from looking forward.

“I want to be an aeronautical engineer,” Al-Ahmari said.

“After graduating, I’m planning to become a licensed therapist,” said Dylan Adejo.

“I plan on going to a four-year college,” Dixon said.

Determined to make the success story start with them.

“The area that you’re in doesn’t define you. You’ve just got to know in your heart and believe that you want to do better for your community and for your sake,” said Renaissance Academy junior Mark Sanders.

Many of the mentors are attorneys, but students also got to hear from a Baltimore police officer, members of the military, and female advocates.

The event was hosted at M&T Bank Stadium and featured a welcome from Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome.