African American Centers for Advanced Studies (AACAS) Council
The Pittsburgh Public Schools’ African American Centers for Advanced Studies (AACAS) Executive Committee aims to be a beacon of support, encouragement and advocacy for the AACAS Council (African American gifted and talented high school students) in maintaining academic, social and emotional excellence while building balanced identities of self, confidence and competence.
History of AACAS
The African American Centers for Advanced Studies (AACAS) Council was formed during the 1991-1992 school year. It was established to support and encourage African American CAS students to strive for excellence. Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Kemp, parents of a former Allderdice student, were the founders of the Council. They wanted to offer their support for their sons and other gifted African American students. After experiencing success at Allderdice, the Kemps recommended that the Council be expanded to all high schools across the district. They presented the idea to Dr. Patricia Tierney, former CAS District Facilitator, Dr. William Penn, former director of the Division for Exceptional Children, Dr. Helen S. Faison, former Deputy Superintendent, and Mrs. Louise R. Brennen, former Superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools and thus the district-wide Council was established.The first district-wide council was held in December, 1992. At this initial meeting, students expressed an interest in creating an Executive Committee as a means of governing and directing the activities of the Council. The Committee's primary function is to determine and organize a yearly agenda of activities, projects, and programs for the Council. In addition, Committee members are to conduct follow-up meetings in their home schools to share information from the Executive Committee.Since 1995, Jacqueline Dandridge has provided leadership to the AACAS Council. She retired from Pittsburgh Public Schools at the end of the 2007-2008 school year. The members of the Council requested that Dr. Wayne Walters serve as the new sponsor/advisor for the AACAS Council at the beginning of the 2008 school year and he graciously accepted. The Council continues to serve as an important vehicle for inspiration, learning, exposure, support, and advocacy for African American CAS students.
Annually, the Executive Committee will host the African- American Centers for Advanced Studies (AACAS) Symposium in the Spring. The AACAS Executive Council is a representative group of African American gifted and talented students from each of the nine 6-12 and high schools in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Throughout the day, students participate in student workshops, led by guest speakers, and a teen forum.