Students are participating in exercises of democracy with goals of improving Pioneer Valley High School.
The Raising Student Voice and Participation (RSVP) program engages students to suggest ideas and concerns about student life on campus. Training has started to gather information from more than 2,500 students and several forums are planned.
PVHS director of activities Lisa Walters knows students are ready for the opportunity to participate in their educational environment.
"It will be refreshing to listen to what the students want and not what adults are telling them," Walters said. "Too many people are telling students they have no say in their education."
Changes are taking place, even though the RSVP Panther Forums are scheduled during the next several months.
Recent training involved students, teachers/mentors and administrators, where plenty of new ideas surfaced, including a salad bar in the cafeteria and water filter stations. Principal Shanda Herrera and staff committed to make the student ideas realities.
Students also voiced concerns about getting more shade on campus. If this becomes a schoolwide consensus, a committee will be selected and the students will participate in the design and placement process.
The program involves the selection of RSVP student leaders and mentors/teachers Scott Authier and Laura Baines. The group will work with administrators to narrow the priorities down.
Students Stephany Rubio (ASB president) and Jorge Moran (ASB vice president) have found the new communication process and changes "empowering."
"Everybody is more excited for RSVP and the changes that can be made by working together,'' Moran said.
The first summit is slated for January while the second will happen in February. The third and fourth will take place in March and April, respectively.
— Kenny Klein represents the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.