In an effort to give students more opportunities to share feedback about their school experiences, Colonial School District has organized monthly “Coffee and Conversations” meetings at the middle school and high school level.
Melissa Figueroa-Douglas, Equity and Advancement Officer, initiated these meetings with school club leaders as a way to “provide a space and be intentional about amplifying, empowering, and sustaining student voice.”
The first meeting held at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in November included student leaders from cultural awareness, service, and leadership clubs. They discussed a wide variety of issues in small groups.
“It was an enlightening experience,” said Ms. Figueroa-Douglas. “Students were passionate and advocated well about experiences from their perspectives. Students communicated gratitude for the positive environment that the administrative team at PWHS has created and sustained, and they shared areas they would like to see improved.”
Dr. Jason Bacani, Principal, said it is an administrative goal to foster student voices and that the principals who participated found it rewarding to hear from students first-hand about both success and challenges.
“Students appreciated being heard, and shared how grateful they are to help effect change on issues that are important to them,” he said.
Samantha Coke, an 11th-grader, said the conversations were meaningful for both students and administration. Topics such as the college application process, the student dress code, and issues surrounding equity and inclusion were discussed. Samantha said the opportunity allowed students to express their feedback in a safe space, and also gave them the chance to learn from each other about things happening around the school.
“I came away with more knowledge about other students’ experiences in the school and their perspectives on topics,” she said. “Being able to talk to administration allowed me to see all of the good that is happening in the school. I know a lot of students tend to bring up issues the school could work on, but I walked away realizing just how much better of a community this school has become over the past few years, which is important to remember.”