Student-Council

Raising Student Voice through Inclusion

Leah Clark Uncategorized

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P-A-R-T-Y! Party! Party! Party! Where is the party? The party’s over here!

Does this chant ring a bell? It does for me. It’s a popular chant at every Student Council event. The kids chant it back and forth across the gym at schools around the country. It slowly gets louder with each volley. Some might find it annoying and headache-inducing, but I love it.

I am a StuCo kid who became a StuCo advisor. I loved planning the events in high school and deciding dance themes, assembly games, and spirit days. So inevitably when I became a teacher, I wanted to be a part of the StuCo action.

This is my second year advising at a school steeped in tradition. Taking over the role of the “traditions director” can be daunting and overwhelming. I believe it’s important to uphold the school’s history while keeping in mind our school’s changing demographics and student needs. This is a tight rope to walk.

How have I tackled this? One word: Inclusion. I actively recruit diverse students to voice the ideas and concerns of as many students as possible. Last year, I analyzed our student population looking at every stat I could get my hands one: socioeconomic, race, religion, ability, gender, and student involvement.

Then I reached out to teachers asking for names of students who would be a positive part of the council. I sent personalized letters to those students asking them to join the group. The results? More students joining our group who may have never thought of joining.

This year we have students from all walks of life. Our amazing council has students on IEPs, part of our English Language Learner program, minority students, students on free and reduced lunch, and much more.

During Homecoming a few weeks ago, I looked around at our campus wondering who would dress up for the much-anticipated spirit days. Much to my amazement, I saw students dressed up who may never have participated if their friends hadn’t created events that were easy to be apart of. My StuCo kids were aware that our student population needs to be able to open their closet and pull out something they can toss on and be apart of the traditions.

They thought with the student body in mind, and they succeeded. We had more students participate and attend events all week due to their efforts. While I was exhausted from basically sleeping at school all week, every time I turned around I saw my diverse council’s planning for our growing population. They voiced the concerns of our kids and it worked.

In August we attended a regional spirit convention (think 1200 StuCo kids hyped up in costumes learning about leadership). For many of my kids, it was the first time they attended a StuCo convention. The first time the PARTY chant started, they looked around confused. By the third time it came back to our side of the gym, they shouted the words with joy. They officially became StuCo kids, a club I proudly claim.

How does your school promote student involvement, maintain traditions, and raise students’ voices? I would love to know! Please comment below!

 

Leah Clark

Phoenix, Arizona

I joined the teaching profession after spending several years in luxury retail. While the free clothes and handbags were definite job perks, I felt burned out and tired of long hours, weekends and holidays. So, I went back to school to become a teacher and have never looked back. I love my job!
My teaching philosophy is simple: Do what’s best for kids. While it’s not eloquent, this humble phrase directs every decision I make about teaching and students. As a Language Arts teacher at a central Phoenix high school, it’s my honor and passion to create opportunities for students to communicate, collaborate, create and connect with one another and the world around them.
When I am not grading a stack of essays, planning a new lesson, or chaperoning a school dance, I love riding my yellow Huffy bicycle around town, sampling a new restaurant, and traveling to Flagstaff with my husband.

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Comments 3

  1. Rachel Perugini

    Our student council is doing something cool this year: each month they’re having informal forums on a certain topic. Teachers are sent a Googleform to nominate a student to participate on that particular topic and then those students are invited and get a pizza lunch where they come and talk about ideas on it. It seems to have been a good idea to give the student’s voice on topics that matter to them.

  2. austine Etcheverry

    This is awesome! What a great way to boost community in a school. I could feel your passion and excitement come through in your article.

  3. Amethyst Hinton Sainz

    You are so right to be proud of this accomplishment! Wow!

    This year instead of having school-wide or grade-wide elections for representatives, each advisory class elected a representative. It is an incredibly diverse group of students with many different perspectives and life experiences. They are excited to be part of leading events and fundraisers, and proud to represent their classes. It’s really cool.

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