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Getting their voices heard: Student Voice program aims to open doors, minds

Sequim High School student Josh Henderson (center) talks at a May 20 session of Student Voice. Listening, from left, is student Josh McKinney, teacher Jennifer Van de Wege, Sequim School Board director Bev Horan and student Zach Campbell. - Photo by Patsene Dashiell
Sequim High School student Josh Henderson (center) talks at a May 20 session of Student Voice. Listening, from left, is student Josh McKinney, teacher Jennifer Van de Wege, Sequim School Board director Bev Horan and student Zach Campbell.
— image credit: Photo by Patsene Dashiell

Student Voice, an opportunity for students and school board directors to come together for informal dialogue, was held during lunch on May 20 in the board room.

Directors Bev Horan, Mike Howe, John Bridge and Walter Johnson were present and Superintendent Kelly Shea, Sequim High School Principal Shawn Langston and administrative assistant Marilyn Walsh were on hand to observe and take notes. Participating students were Josh Henderson, Zach Campbell, Maeve Harris, Jacob Major, Sahil Singh, Ashley Westrem, Joseph Landoni, Carlo Juntilla, Vianey Cadenas, Taylor Gahr, Mikayla Simonson, Devyn Turner, James Reis, Mikaele Baker, Laurie Miller, Katie Stevenson, Selesha Mckibbon and Josh McKinney. Sequim High School teacher Jennifer Van De Wege acted as facilitator.

In an effort to create a diverse group and get as many opinions represented as possible, student school board representatives Joseph Landoni and Kailee Price invited juniors and seniors from all different student groups.

Landoni, a senior, said, “This was a good opportunity for students to see who is making policy for our district and to learn from each other. I felt Mrs. Van De Wege did a great job as facilitator. She helped bring the level of awkwardness down and made sure that everyone got a chance to speak.”

Topics discussed included changing graduation requirements, the relevance of the senior portfolio, widening the offerings of world languages, the ability to take more electives in an already full class load and the popularity of Career Day.

After hearing each student recount a meaningful high school experience (something each was asked to do), Johnson noted at the May 20 board meeting that all the students mentioned how individual teachers had taken a real interest in them and the positive impact that had on their high school careers. Horan added she was impressed that the students brought up some good ideas.

Howe commented that it was the first one he had attended and that he really enjoyed the process.

Sequim High School principal Shawn Langston said, ”I am always impressed with the thoughtful honesty our students share during their time in the Student Voice session. We are fortunate to be a district that is so ‘kid-driven’ and truly values the opinions and suggestions of our students.”

 

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