Where but a Student Forum at San Dieguito HS Academy would students, administrators, and teachers talk about mindfulness, vegetarianism, and stocking the shelves in the girls’ bathroom all in the same meeting? I shouldn’t be amazed by our monthly Student Forum; I’ve written about them before and know that they’re as much a part of our campus community as public art or the Homeroom Olympics, but I can’t help but be moved when I see democracy in action and student voice put front and center in the greater discussion of this place we call home.
Today’s forum was interesting in the fact that it followed a morning of student speeches at our ASB nominating convention. The assembly that saw these student hopefuls speak to their peers about their vision for our school was a great example of the creativity that exemplifies our school. Passionate, purposeful, and plucky, the speeches ranged from besuited and polished to casual and irreverent. One student had his head shaved while he read off reasons he deserved votes, another led the crowd through a literal step to the left and step to the right (“I was told I needed to give a moving speech,” she explained, “So I did.”), and another ended his appeal for votes with a limber transition into the splits.
Each of these candidates showed a love for their school and a commitment to “keeping SDA funky.” Whoever wins, our school will be in good hands.
Part of the reason for San Dieguito’s special culture is the fact that it isn’t only the elected student officers who get to have a hand in the direction our school takes. Students at large are empowered to make their voices heard in a variety of ways. By the time I got back to my office after the forum, I had a tweet from a student asking about why a drinking fountain had been turned off. I tweeted back that I’d find out, and I’m hopeful to have an answer for him (and any other students on Twitter) by the end of the day. Other students stop me (and my assistant principals) at games and during intermission in the lobby of the performing arts center with questions and comments that help us as we strive to be sensitive stewards of this special place.
The crown jewel of our San Dieguito HS Academy democracy is the forum. The freedom to talk about any subject and to do so in a real and honest way helps to define our school culture. Just as important is the fact that great crowds of students, teachers, and administrators not only know they can speak, but know how important it is that they listen.
I look forward to every forum, and see each as an opportunity for me to learn how best to help guide San Dieguito HS Academy in the direction that benefits students most. Today that meant talking about the possibility of chalking arrows on the ground to help with pedestrian traffic, arranging a meeting between students and our food service folks, and putting priority on replenishing toilet paper in the girls’ restrooms.
I wish every principal could be so fortunate as to have this kind of ongoing student input. I know that I’m thankful for the strong voice of a thoughtful student body and a school where that voice is given a forum to be heard.