Voice of Change Conference provide students opportunity to have a say

Drew Jurek, Layout EIC

On April 16, administration members will hold a conference with students in order to provide them with a voice about the future of the school.

At the beginning of the year, Cultural Liaison Cornelius Rish formed the Student Leadership Council. The group included students from various student leadership organizations, including student government, AVID, BSU and ASU. Members of the group act as both advocates for racial equity and an advisory group for decisions by administration. Recently, in collaboration with two outside consultants, the group has decided to provide students a venue for their voices to be heard by putting on a conference.

“I realized that often as adult educators we sometimes have what are called blind spots.” Rish explained. “We have our own perception of what we think is going on in schools and what students need. But I believe that we need to listen to student voices and for students to tell us what’s going on in the school and what students need.”

We would like to get as many voices at the table as possible…We want to have a wide variety of perspectives at the table. I think when we do that, it benefits the entire community.”

— Cornelius Rish

The conference wants to bring students together to discuss their experiences and what improvements can be made. Especially in light of Governor Walz “Due North” educational plan, which calls for ensuring all Minnesotans have access to an equitable education and a safe learning environment.

Rish explained he wanted the meeting to discuss the climate at the high school and discuss things that were working well and thing’s that were making it more difficult. This would then allow Administration a clear guide to what students were hoping for.

The conference will be held as a world café, in which multiple student led discussions will be occurring in virtual meetings on Zoom at the same time and students can join the ones that they want to take part in. The Student Leadership Council has released a video with information, and plans to put up posters that will include QR codes to join Zoom Meetings.

“We would like to get as many voices at the table as possible.” Rish explained. “Because a lot of times if you get just a few students having a conversation, you only get those two students’ perspectives. We want to have a wide variety of perspectives at the table. I think when we do that, it benefits the entire community.”