Memorial High School is rolling out a new program to amplify student voices. RSVP, or Raising Student Voice & Participation, is an initiative led by Student Council that will work to accomplish this goal.
“These aren't the teachers going in and having these conversations. This is you going into classrooms, having these conversations with your peers and getting them talking about things,” National Student Council Associate Director Jeff Sherrill told students at the training session in September.
Approximately 40 students took part in the full-day seminar where they learned the ins and outs of the program.
“I thought it went really well because we didn’t just have students that were just in student council. We had students that were a part of the student body that hadn’t been in a leadership role before,” said Kielee Ferrell, senior and student council president. “It was really cool getting to hear their voices and then being able to see them and how excited they were to step forward and start something.”
The group started the day with an ice breaker activity where they were asked to choose between two things (ex. being bored or being busy), discuss why they chose it, and then present their reasons to the other students to vote on. The students enjoyed debating, but a lesson quickly surfaced: they have to listen to know how to respond.
“I learned that it’s important to take consideration from other people,” said senior Tiason Proctor, the student council vice president. “I learned that if people don’t speak up for what they want or what they believe in then how are changes going to happen?”
Now that the students are equipped with knowledge about RSVP, they have to put it into action. They will host two summits to get input from students, and then create an action plan to work to incorporate those new ideas.
“We planned our first date for Summit 1. Now, we’re going to take [the faculty] through Summit 1 so they know what we’re going to be doing. That will be our first test, then we’ll take it to the students after that,” explained Kielee.
The students said they have taken surveys in the past to give their opinions about the school, but they never saw anything come of it. They are hoping this way will be more effective.
“The difference with having it be student-led is it is more personalized to the students. Students know what students like,” said Kielee. “From the voices that I’ve heard about it, I think kids are excited to hear their voices being heard. They get to see, ‘okay, we’re a part of this too.’ There’s a lot of kids that are really excited, and they’re really very ready for this.”
“Hopefully it brings change and people can be heard,” said junior Odalis Arredondo, the student council secretary.
For more information on the RSVP program, click here.