Students representing 27 high schools and four career centers traveled to the Raymond O. Shelton Administrative Services Center (ROSSAC) for the 2017 High School Student Forum to pose challenging questions and discuss possible solutions with the School Board, Superintendent Eakins, and District staff.
The auditorium filled up quickly as students in groups of two or three filed in and sat in their designated chairs, ready to speak up and speak out about problems and concerns that trouble them. Mrs. Sherrie Sykes, longtime district leader, served as the facilitator of the event for the 16th time! Board and Superintendent’s staff members introduced themselves, principals were acknowledged, and the Forum began. Questions ranged from the very philosophical - Is there a program that allows selected students to meet with and mentor elementary students? - to facilities – When is the next renovation scheduled for Chamberlain High School? – to budget concerns – Why were student success coaches at non-title I schools cut, if priorities are centered around student needs?
The Board presented a survey question to all the students, asking to see what the general consensus was regarding two different questions that had some similarities. Mallory Hirn from Newsome HS asked about “adding a study hall period for students who need more worktime during the school day”, and Christian Suarez from Leto HS wanted to know why “students from neighboring counties are dismissed an hour earlier than HCPS, which totals 900 instructional hours, but our schools total 1,050 instructional hours.” The Board asked the entire group if they would prefer an extra study hall or a shorter day. Both responses drew about the same number of votes, but the entire scenario was a great way to include all the students in the discussion about a very important consideration.
A question posed by Clay Adams from Plant City HS regarding plans to improve classroom discipline and consequences was addressed by Mrs. Harris. She asked Clay what he would do to correct the situation, and he bravely suggested having “more serious consequences that truly matter to students.” In response to the question from Chamberlain about renovations, Mrs. Valdes praised Ariella Katz for being “an advocate for her alma mater and taking pride in her campus!” Mrs. Gray, who is new to the Board, addressed the first question of the day from Amanda Wetzel of Alonso HS. Her question asked how the District can ease and personalize the process of taking advantage of financial resources available to graduating students so as to fulfill the mission and vision of HCPS. Mrs. Gray provided a one-word solution, “Internships!”
As a result of the afternoon’s discussion, Board Chair Mrs. Stuart challenged the Board to put together a workshop designed specifically to consider implementation of one or more of the proposals submitted by the students. Students were pleased to know that their thoughts and ideas were important and that they had enough of a true impact on the Board to warrant serious and meaningful consideration in the near future.
Enjoy photos of the2017 High School Forum in the Flickr album below!
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