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Students Can Lead the Way

By Our Turn

This blog was written by a student who wished to remain unnamed, but completed the 2024 Rising Changemakers Program.

Students would have a more enjoyable, fulfilling school experience with the addition of a student representative on the school board. Students care deeply about equity, inclusion, and mental health services. They care about receiving a well-rounded and fulfilling education, one centered around their social and emotional needs in addition to academic rigor that prepares students for post-secondary education and careers.

Students are expected to juggle classes, tests, sports games, social gatherings, and personal responsibilities simultaneously, all of which can prove to be a challenge for many teenagers. We are in a serious mental health crisis–in 2021 42% of students reported frequently feeling sad or hopeless and over 20% of students reported suicidal ideation. Additionally, today’s students are navigating an overwhelming academic pressure to be competitive enough to land our dream jobs, internships, or college offers. 

Given the stakes, there is a collective urgency for adults in school to do more to support students. We need more than leadership, we need your partnership, to tackle these issues we need student representation in decisions made in schools.

Student representatives are uniquely positioned to further school initiatives as they experience the inner workings of the school each and every day, thus becoming acutely aware of its failings. Furthermore, students are the most connected to the student body at large and have the ability to be honest and constructive in their criticism and suggestions. A student representative could advocate for the implementation of a master calendar where teachers add their scheduled big projects and tests to provide transparency so that other teachers can monitor their students’ workloads. While teachers worry about their specific class, students are juggling 7+ subjects at a time, which can not only affect their performance in other classes, but can take a substantial toll on their mental health. They could also ensure the availability of at-school, tutoring support which would help students stay on track and help ease concerns. Finally, they could suggest the implementation of mental health days for all students as needed, because for students to be academically successful, other aspects of their life, including personal well-being and social relationships, need to be in tune.

As the school year progresses, it is easy for students to forgo wellness which can lead one to feel burned out, unmotivated, and possibly worthless. This trend leads to negative results, including depression and possibly suicidal thoughts, making learning impossible. Therefore, teachers must utilize empathy and compassion when guiding students, and they must recognize the importance that a healthy mental state can provide in all aspects of life. 

All in all, a student representative could ensure that the student body’s voice is heard in the room where decisions are made. They could advocate for meaningful change that would benefit the learning trajectory of the student community, and as such, this role should be instituted promptly.