The Culture and Community Team breaks the norm: Amplifying student voice in school policies and processes

CHANGING WITH THE SEASONS | Coordinator of Culture and Community Team, Kevin Shubnell, expresses the changes he wants the team to achieve for the upcoming year. “I’d love for every year to have a big project that the Culture Team works towards. Whether it’s an event in the spring or in the doldrums of the winter,” Shubnell said.
(Photo credit: Stephanie Karoutsos)

The recent addition of the Culture and Community Team at North provides a platform for student voice in school decisions, policies and processes. Important decision making in the past has often been lacking student opinion and representation. The student team consists of students of all backgrounds, grades and interests who were nominated by teachers. These students strive to integrate student perspective in the many systems and policies to see where change can be made to better align with both administration and peer expectation. 

As a member of the Culture and Community Team, junior Niko Truza elaborates on what the team entails, as well as his understanding of the significance of at the very least having your voice heard. 

“The team is about giving our fellow students at North a voice that goes straight to administration in order to create a meaningful, long lasting, and positive change in our school,” Truza said. “Although we may not always get the change we are seeking, it is important that we are at least represented in the decision making process, as many of these topics pertain to our daily lives as students.”

Following the first meeting on Feb. 2, coordinator for the Culture and Community Team, Kevin Shubnell, highlights some of the popularly conversed topics. 

Photo credit: Stephanie Karoutsos

“We purposefully keep [the structure] loose so that the topics can flow,” Shubnell said. “[We discussed] very wide ranging topics from the dress code to the parking lot to lockdown security.”

The variety of possibilities for change run far, and junior team member De’ja Hill expresses her hopes for modifications in current policies at North.

“I want to see a dress code that isn’t so sexist and restrictive as well as a spirit week that allows us to dress up,” Hill said. “I also hope that the team expands more, so that more perspectives are shared.”

Student perspective is equally valuable to Truza, and not only does he strive to collaborate with other students to create a comfortable school environment, but he wants all students to feel welcomed and a part of North. 

“Knowing that I could help make a student’s school experience a little more enjoyable or fair from the students perspective [is] something that I take pride in,” Truza said. “Showing students that they can create change, that the rules are not set in stone, but rather adapt to the current student body and education system cohesively.”   

Photo credit: Stephanie Karoutsos

Establishing this team where students get to be on equal footing with administration in terms of decision making breaks a barrier that helps students feel more comfortable voicing their opinions. 

“There is a divide between kids and administrators that shouldn’t exist,” Hill said. “This group will allow a productive discussion in which both sides are free to voice their opinions.”

The system of checks and balances that the team provides is crucial to making the decision making process at North run smoothly, and Shubnell states its imperativeness.

“The best classes, the best teams and the best anything are when they are student or player driven, and that’s what we want to create here,” Shubnell said.