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Student Advisory Committee gives students a voice

Jan. 11, 2018

Students at BVSD are tackling the tough issues, and leadership is listening.

Middle and high school students, members of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC), meet regularly to discuss complicated and many times controversial topics at their schools. They then have the opportunity to share updates with members of the BVSD Board of Education at each regular board meeting. SAC 1-11-18 01zz.jpg

“I think your input will be critical,” Board member Kathy Gebhardt said to a high school student who was presenting at the Nov. 14 meeting.

“You guys are not shying away from the hard issues, and I appreciate you stepping up on those.  However we can be helpful, please let us know because we'd like to be partners in your work.”

Gebhardt was speaking to Grace Chow (Boulder High) and Maliek Swain (Centaurus), who had just shared student concerns regarding security cameras in schools.

During the SAC meetings, students collaborate on areas of interest, deliberating and developing recommendations to school leadership, including cabinet members, school leaders and board members. Topics this year have included bullying, drugs and alcohol, student protesting, diversity and inclusion.

“So far it has been a lot of fun being apart of SAC, said Lucca Houston, 8th grade student at Manhattan Middle School.

“I like how enthusiastic all of the other students are about the topics we talk about and how everyone is engaged. In the meeting, there was a good balance between discussing ways on how to improve the schools in the district and playing games in order to meet everyone else and learn everyone's names so that we're more comfortable with each other.”

Each middle school, including charter schools, is able to select two representatives, while each high school has three representatives. Both groups will formally present their recommendations to the Board in April, which will then be carefully considered by district and school leadership. In some cases in the past, it has helped to bring change.

For instance, a few years ago, the SAC discussed concerns regarding the use of class rankings in terms of performance and delivered a recommendation to leadership to change the practice, which it then did.

“The one topic that I feel passionate towards discussing that we've gone over so far is how students mental health could be thought of more regularly within schools,” Houston said.

“I feel that a lot of schools in our district don't really discuss heavy topics that have to do with mental health, and I feel like teachers and students could be educated more thoroughly on how to help someone else or themselves if they are experiencing or going through anything.”

Marc Schaffer, BVSD assistant superintendent of secondary school leadership, said “The kids that have been involved have appreciated having their voices heard.

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” Schaffer said. “Kids just love to provide their input and opinions, and their feedback is taken with careful consideration.”

Megan Banks, an 11th grade student at Monarch High, said her involvement has been meaningful.

“The conversations we have been having can be described as deep and real,” she said.

“All of the students who sit on SAC are very passionate about what we are talking about and want to do the best for our schools. We have focused on real problems and have all been able to connect in a personal way to the issues we are discussing.”