Photo by Isabella Ngwana.
Lack of attention towards student needs, emotions being dismissed and not having a sense of belonging dwells on the thoughts of WCHS students. WCHS students often complain about the administration not considering their overall well-being. There has not been much previous advocacy for student suggestions within school regulations, but on Feb. 9 a group of students was invited during Pride for an opportunity to open up to administrators.
“Mr. Miller and I wanted to start the Bulldog Student Voice Forum as a way to get feedback from students about their experiences at Churchill. It is actually one small piece of a greater equity initiative that the school’s leadership team has been working on.” school administrator Monica Taliani said.
Mr. Miller and Ms. Taliani brought students together to discuss topics that ranged from bullying to overall school policies. Students responded to an anonymous survey that allowed them to fully express themselves without feeling the need to answer. The administration was open to many questions students carried with them into the meeting, preparing a safe, inclusive environment.
“Student’s Voices is a great opportunity for students to express their sentiments about school because it’s hard to get your point across to staff when there are so many students and so little time. Student Voices helps put a spotlight on important issues at the school,” WCHS freshman Daniela Corona Shtruman said.
Students have been adjusting to the overall changes from their bedrooms to classroom desks. The lack of connection to teacher help has been complicated for everyone involved.
“The biggest challenge our school has seen in response to transitioning students back to a physical school building from online learning has been the impact on socio-emotional well-being. Many students have reported being overwhelmed by the increase of rigor in classes over those from last year. Both our freshman and sophomore classes are coming into Churchill with no in-person learning since they were in middle school. It is a big adjustment,” Taliani said.
With Student’s Voices meetings, the WCHS administration plans to work on building back social-emotional skills students lost during the pandemic. Many WCHS students lost the opportunity to create friends and communicate their sentiments with peers.
“[It has] been really hard as students haven’t had to interact with their peers in person for a long time. It was easier to deal with having a bad hair day, an outfit that doesn’t look how you hoped, or an argument with a friend when you could simply mute your sound and video,” Tailani said. “You can’t disengage like that when you are in the school building. It is forcing students to have to cope on the spot, and those are skills that we haven’t been growing or practicing for a couple of years.”
WCHS students and staff have a lot to work on to achieve normalcy. As the administration takes the opportunity to learn about students’ hardships and personal experiences of students, it strengthens the WCHS community.
“Everything has changed. We are all facing a new world that has evolved so much and in ways that we could have never imagined before the pandemic. Being able to anticipate what is coming next helps people feel prepared and grounded. I think we are all still a little cautious moving forward because we have all been shaken. I am so proud of our school community. I think that in the face of the tremendous changes going on, I do see the community as a whole adjusting and adapting as we move forward through the unknowns,” Taliani said.