If The Little Mermaid taught us anything, it was to value our voices.
Oftentimes, students take their voice and ability to represent themselves within the school system for granted. Or they underestimate it.
Whether or not students use their voice for prom or progress, it’s time to realize just how powerful the student voice can be.
At CHS, organizations like the Student Senate and the Observer aren’t well-acknowledged by students who aren’t involved. Students not in the Senate are happy to have a lunch period free of obligation, while students who aren’t part of the newspaper flip through to check on scores or the article they were interviewed for.
And while students are free to pursue whatever they’d like, it’s important to realize that every single one of these groups works to make the student voice heard.
Students want a Sadie Hawkins Dance? Scheduled. Students want a day to recognize LGBTQ classmates? Scheduled for every year. Students want to raise awareness about mental health? An Honors Society is already on it. Students need a Wellness Weekend that actually doesn’t assign homework? Published.
But CHS students can push further. While this year’s major breakthrough was the establishment of UP Day, the student voice can be used to tackle much larger issues, from the constant and concurrent problems of stress and cheating to undercurrents of racism and general avoidance of acknowledging and accepting minority groups.
Still, it’s important to take note that recent improvements could have been made years ago, had students banded together and taken control of issues as a student body. Instead, small minority groups have tried to inspire change, but their limited numbers have resulted in their voice going unheard.
Fortunately, there’s a new wave of student empowerment sweeping through with the New Voice Act, which aims to protect student journalists and their advisers from unnecessary censorship and consequences from administration and the new SMOB Voting Bill, which will give the SMOB more authority. If students were worried about becoming involved in their education and school environment, there’s no need to be now.
According to the Feb. 4 MCPS House Bill, the new bill will give the SMOB power to vote on collective bargaining, capital and operating budgets and school closing, reopenings and boundaries.
According to Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center Frank D. LoMonte, the New Voice Act benefits the entire school community, as people need students to report the news about what’s going well and what’s not going well in their schools. Take the staff of the Rockville High School newspaper, the Rampage, for example, which exposed the dangerous levels of toxins and lead present in school water.
At CHS, student publications have provided information on subjects like student use of heroin and marijuana so as to encourage change. In fact, student publications were able to publish material on topics ranging from sex to alcohol to online censorship to school cheating scandals. Rarely do students appreciate just how great it is that CHS usually lets the student voice ring.
Really, the solution is simple. Students, make the effort to be involved in school issues, so that we’ll be prepared to be part of a world of change and constant progression.