Thursday, March 9, 2023

District students advise school board members

88.1 The Park radio station Community Focus interview
 of 2022 Student Voice and Action Committee.
Plymouth-Canton Community Schools students are making an impact - in real time and in an official capacity - on school district policies through a newly created committee.

The students, through the Student Voice in Action Committee (SVA), are part of the Plymouth Canton Community Schools Board of Education. A brainchild of Board of Education President Shawn Wilson and approved unanimously by the board, the student committee members are already offering student perspectives on some key issues affecting them, including diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, social-emotional health programs within the district, and ways to enhance the student experience both in and out of the classroom, officials said. 

“At Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, getting the perspectives of our students on policies that affect them is essential if we're going to encourage independent thinking, problem solving and student leadership,” said Wilson, who is also the CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan. “As a member of the board and someone who loves this community, I'm amazed every day at the passion and wisdom our young people are bringing to the table.”

Officially formed in December 2022, the SVA Committee is off to a fast start. The group meets twice a month to tackle issues that are important to students - from safety matters to classroom learning to health and wellness. In addition to attending board meetings, the next milestone for students on the SVA Committee is working with board members and administrators to implement their recommendations.

The SVA committee includes about 60 students from grades 6-12 who attend all five district middle schools, Canton, Salem and Plymouth high schools and Starkweather Academy.

“SVA provides a platform for students to voice their concerns and ideas on school policies that have a direct effect on them,” said committee member and student Haidy Zhang. “This not only allows administration to gain deeper insight on the needs of the students, but this also helps foster a sense of belonging and inclusion for the student body.”

“For me, being a part of SVA has been a remarkable experience. It has given me the opportunity to connect with so many other students who share an equal passion for initiating change, and I believe that together we can make a positive impact on our community for years to come,” Zhang said.

In addition to Wilson and students, board members Anupam Chugh Sidhu and Lauren Christensen, as well as Superintendent Dr. Monica Merritt and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Liz Vartanian-Gibbs, are also members of the SVA Committee.

“By providing a platform for student voices, student agency and student action, the SVA Committee supports our district's dynamic plan of connecting all aspects of a student's learning experience, inside and outside the classroom,” Merritt said. “As educators, we're thrilled to see our students act as engaged citizens.”