The Verona Area School District will host the national Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) conference in downtown Madison this week, making it the first district in Wisconsin to host the annual event.

MSAN is a national coalition of multi-racial, suburban-urban school districts that addresses opportunity and achievement gaps found in its schools. About 250 minority students from around the country will convene to discuss what causes racial inequality and create solutions that they can implement in their schools to decrease the problem.

Laurie Burgos, director of bilingual programs and instructional equity at the Verona School District, said the conference is a way for students to be actively involved in making a difference in their schools.

“The goal of the conference is for students to come up with an action plan to take back and present to their district leaders, board of education and superintendents about what their voice is in the school improvement process and how they want to help make that work in their district,” Burgos said.

Students created this year’s theme, called “Exploring Deeper Roots: Expose Roots that Cause Racial Inequalities, Embrace Roots of Who You Are, and Empower to Take Action.”

At each year's conference, students tour a university. This year, they will visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison where they will be able to take personalized tours based on the interest of the students, meeting students, professors and alumni.

This year’s MSAN conference will take place Oct 7-10 at Madison's Concourse Hotel.

Featured keynote speakers include UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank; Rev. Alex Gee, pastor of Fountain of Life Covenant Church in Madison; Dr. Decoteau Irby, assistant professor at the UW-Milwaukee on Urban Education Leadership Development, who will address this conference on racial inequities; and Everett Mitchell, Director of Community Relations at UW-Madison and pastor of Christ Solid Rock Baptist Church in Madison.

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