On January 20th, 2021, NAHS students met virtually for the Fourth Annual Student Voice Summit to discuss a variety of issues within the school and plan and implement solutions.
The annual conference usually meets once every school quarter for an entire school day, but this year they will only be meeting as a large group twice.
Mr. Haviland brought the idea to NAHS in his first year as principal, in 2017. Mrs. Violette and Mrs. Kelleher stepped in as the coordinators and have been running the event ever since.
Student voice is a cornerstone in the vision of our school’s leaders, and a pandemic was not going to stop it. Student voice may be needed now more than ever, in a year where everyone is struggling in their own ways.
“We want to increase the sense of belonging and create an environment that is inclusive for everyone,” said Mrs. Violette. “Students need to know they have support in the different areas in which it’s needed; not just academically, but socially, emotionally and mentally. It’s a lot of work, but it’s valuable work and I’m proud of this group for getting together to discuss ways to affect change.”
The Student Voice Summit met virtually for four hours on Wednesday. Aakash Sunkari, a senior at NAHS and a Student Voice Summit delegate, explained that it functioned just the same as the normal in-person conference, and they were still able to accomplish a lot.
Mrs. Violette agreed, saying that she thought the day went well.
“Students were focused and worked well within their breakout groups,” explained Mrs. Violette. “Every time Mrs. Kelleher and I joined a group, we noted that there was an interesting and on-topic discussion happening.”
Students were split into groups and placed in virtual breakout rooms on Google Meet. Each group picked an issue affecting students within the school and discussed what they could do to fix it. They spent time working on proposals to present to the administration.
Junior Joey Perriello and his group focused on improving the High School Helpers program, which is a student-led tutoring system to support students through the difficulties of virtual learning.
“To launch this program, we plan on establishing a Google Classroom page where students can join and become a helper for others around the school,” said Perriello. “Additionally, each and every Freshman gets paired with a Sophomore, Junior, or Senior helper who will assist them with schoolwork, problems, and other questions they may have as underclassmen.”
Their goal is to improve the inclusivity and warmth of the NAHS environment as a whole. More information about this program will be rolled out in the next few weeks.
Aakash’s group worked on addressing student engagement during X-Block.
“X-Block doesn’t have much of a structure – which is OK, because that was the intent – but the issue is that students think that X-Block doesn’t have much meaning to it and many of them leave instead of using this valuable time,” Sunkari explained.
Aakash said that his group intends to host live streams that will showcase student achievements, sports, or more serious topics.
“At the end of each live stream would be some sort of interactive game (Kahoots, GimKits) which students would actually want to get involved in, thus increasing school spirit in a year where dodgeball, trivia bowl, rallies and other activities are cancelled,” said Aakash.
The Student Voice Summit is only just underway and the delegates will continue to meet as often as possible during X-Block to implement their plans.
The next meeting will be sometime in the spring.
Anyone interested in getting involved with Student Voice Summit in the future should email NAHSSVS@naschools.net.