School Board All Ears at Special Meeting

By Bethany BROWN

On Oct. 26, the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education held its first Student Voice Panel (SVP) of the 2021 academic year. Student representatives from all five high schools in the district were present to provide feedback to board members on a variety of topics. SVP meetings happen twice within the academic year and serve as a chance for the board to gain insight directly from students regarding their immediate concerns and hearing any suggestions they might have.

“It’s a very special opportunity to hear authentic feedback directly from our student leaders,” Superintendent Dr. Vivian Ekchian said.

Ekchian said she recently had the opportunity to speak with different GUSD alumni who had served in high school on the Student Advisory Council and as SVP moderators. They emphasized how valuable the experience was for them and how much they felt their voices and opinions were heard by board members and district leadership.

“It made me incredibly happy to hear this directly from our student leaders because we truly do take to heart what you share with us during these panels and use your feedback to improve the educational experience for all of our students,” Ekchian said.

The students on the panel discussed various topics and their relation to the transition to on-campus learning after being remote last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They provided suggestions for the bettering of student engagement, health and wellness, school spirit and sense of belonging. Some ideas included implementing a buddy system or mentorship program, having more on-campus events to allow for connections to be made with others and the reforming of late-work policies. The students stressed that they are not in normal circumstances, and they needed understanding from teachers and administrators that they’re going through a lot, academically and personally.

“I’m always incredibly impressed by the insightful comments we receive from our students,” Board President Shant Sahakian said. “Tonight was no different.”

Sahakian announced at the close of the meeting that GUSD SVP will now be recognized on a state level by the California School Boards Association. The district will soon receive a CSBA Golden Bell Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding programs and governance practices of school boards in school districts and county offices of education throughout the state.