Last year, principal Janice Schwarze and superintendent Dr. Hank Thiele did a phenomenal job of creating outlets for student voices. Their efforts included video updates, more social media use, Student Advisory Board and, new this year, two student members on the Board of Education.
There’s no question that the effort is there, but the sincerity of the effort remains unknown. Before final decisions were made in spring of last year about graduation gowns and senior handprints, there were chances to ask student groups such as Student Advisory Board for feedback.
It is disheartening to see these useful outlets become pointless due to the lack of communication between administration and students. As a member of the Student Advisory Board, I can attest that these meetings are not as productive as they could be if the administration discussed impactful decisions with us.
Now students are left with a great number of voices signing a petition that will change nothing for this school year. In an Omega interview, Schwarze stated that the decision of robes in particular will not be changed by these student voices.
“The petition won’t change our minds because we didn’t make this change to one color robes lightly. We believe we are doing what is right for all students and families. While I am sure the people who signed the petition are well-intentioned, they don’t have the same information we have and thus cannot know what is best for the greater good,” Schwarze said.
Still, senior Isabella Cotterell and DGS senior Nora Woods are continuing to meet with administrators. If these student voices are falling on deaf ears, then why put these students through all the extra work and stress of preparing for discussions with administration?
It is understandable that not every student voice can be taken into account or no decision would ever be made. However, the exact mission of the Student Advisory Board is to try and achieve this. These student leaders cannot advise on issues they do not know about.
The only way these new outlets for student communication will be useful is if administration consults students of notable changes in the school. Students want to be involved in the decision-making process, not the repair.