Alongside a vast administration, nearly 2,000 adolescents constitute the dynamic and diverse student body that we call Malden High School. With this, underlined is student voice, an engine of enhancing school culture alongside unifying the student body and administration.
Our student representative, Christelle Jean, presents a tensive voice to the Malden City Council; the Youth Civics Council (YCC) seeks impassioned youth to create change on the local spectrum; a recent survey reviewing Malden High’s Program of Studies requested insight among the entire school body; emphasis of student voice resonates within stories produced from The Blue and Gold.
In the past, trivial efforts were made to improve school culture. Now, students at Malden High are provided numerous opportunities to emerge and empower their voice; and among them is the Student Voice Project (SVP), a namesake project designated to do just that alongside increasing inclusivity and collaboration within the entire school community.
Advised by staff and faculty members of the school administration and guided by Boyle House Principal Stephanie Sibley, the SVP was built on the foremost mission of “using insights gained to increase understanding and awareness about students’ academic, social and emotional experiences” as well as “strengthening relationships within the school community.” Coupled with these principles are ensuring that members reach far to improve the future of the MHS community while seeking personal growth in terms of collaboration and leadership.
The project had since tallied a great degree of success since its inception in the past school year. Hosting a number of pensive discussions evaluating data from Youth Truth surveys administered to the school and having presented their findings to the school committee, members worked strenuously--despite technical and communicative difficulties from virtual learning--to reinforce students to voice their opinions more intuitively than by design.
Co-advisors Jean Jones and Michel-Le Meranda acknowledged how nuances of their efforts were found in newly administered implementations of this school year. Among their recommendations to the committee were “holding community-building events for freshmen academies,” attained through the hosting of Freshman Boot Camp, the Knowledge Bowl and even the new Flex schedule.
Other influences of the SVP suggesting more academic opportunities beyond what’s offered at Malden High impelled the College and Career Readiness Center, to which they’ve prioritized “college visits, a job fair and a resume-building workshop” for students.
However, while the advisors provide adult support, the SVP lends emphasis on student leadership. “The SVP isn’t about adults coming up with goals and students implementing them,” stated Jones. “Rather, it’s about letting students drive the discussion and change.” Mirrored by their avid participation in group discussions,
The importance of this principle is further echoed in Jones’ words: “Schools need to know in real-time how our current world is affecting students so that school can be the best place it can be to help students navigate their shared, and different, realities…this necessitates having up to date, real-time information about their diverse experiences.”
By structuring the project this way, students stray away from the environment of a traditional classroom and instead have the ability to build and utilize leadership skills to direct fellow members.
With the new year ahead providing a window for liberating student voice, SVP advisors hope to gain more members. “We need more participation so we can determine the focus not just for this year, but for years to come,” they believe. “We would welcome any ideas students have about how to get people involved.”
Engraved in their mission statement, “Students represent a wide range of cultures, languages, and perspectives, so we want to hear from them.” The application deadline was drawn before winter break, but students currently seeking leadership and collaborative opportunities are strongly encouraged to join.
If the Student Voice Project sparks your interest, please contact co-advisors Jones or Meranda for more information.