In his fourth year of working directly with student representatives, Kyrene Superintendent David Schauer said he has seen students become more involved in school issues.
One such issue is the environment, and members of the Kyrene Student Superintendent Advisory Council (SSAC) have been busy all school year preparing for Kyrene Goes Green Week beginning April 25. This isn't the first time Kyrene and the SSAC have organized such a week, but Schauer said it is the first time the students are in control of getting their respective schools to participate.
"This group has allowed them to think about their whole school district and if we did something in concert, it could have a much bigger impact," Schauer said. "Our students are very passionate about this topic (going green). They think and talk about it all the time."
Each day of Green Week will have a different theme. Monday is Blackout Day, in which the lights are turned off at the schools to conserve electricity. Tuesday is Paperless Day in which the schools will focus on using less paper. Wednesday is Wear Green Day to promote awareness about environmentalism. Thursday is Trash pickup/Recycle Day. Friday is Walk, Ride a Bus, Ride a Bike or Carpool Day to reduce the carbon footprint.
The SSAC and members of the Kyrene administration host the group of 31 students from every school in the district once a month at the district offices. They have been working on Green Week since the beginning of the school year.
"I think the (SSAC) is really good because we get to meet with kids at all different schools and they do different things and we all share our ideas," said Ben Kilano, a student at Akimel A-al. "We get to see what the rest of the schools are doing."
One of the other things the SSAC does is look at ways to improve student life in schools. Schauer said they recently looked over a poll of 7,000 Kyrene students which measured three areas - hope, engagement and well-being.
"There was a certain percentage of students that reported that they aren't really hopeful about the future," he said. "It was only something like two percent but the council looked at the number and thought, ‘Wow, there are four or five kids at my school that are unhappy, how do we change that?'"
After the monthly meeting, the students report to their school, either through the public address system or through the student council, what they discussed. The structure of the group is a lot more formal and efficient than it was when the group started four years ago.
"The original idea was we needed to hear directly from the students about their experiences in the school," Schauer said. "It started as a small group with informal discussions about how things go. But now it has evolved into something more structured and we discuss topics more thoroughly."
Parents and students can contact their school to see how they can help with Kyrene Goes Green Week.
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