Students: Use Facebook to communicate

By Sara Bruestle | May 02, 2012
Photo by: Sara Bruestle Theresa Pearson (left) and Faith Dawson (right) listen to fellow student Bianca Llorico talk about her experiences at Mariner High School at a recent Mukilteo School Board meeting.

Students in the Mukilteo School District speak positively of their high school experiences – they just wish they had more opportunities to speak up.

The Mukilteo School Board held its annual meeting with students from Kamiak, Mariner and ACES high schools on April 27 to reflect on their educational experiences in high school.

The board’s 2011-12 student advisers mediated the discussion between the board members and about 40 students in 10th through 12th grade.

“This is the meeting that we, as board members, look forward to the most during the year,” board president Judy Schwab said. “It provides an opportunity for us to gain insight into the experiences and thinking of our high school students that we wouldn't ordinarily get.”

Asked if they felt their voices were heard, the majority of students said yes, but admitted that it was likely because they were very involved in their schools. Nearly all of the students at the meeting were in Leadership class.

“You may not have a voice unless you’re in Leadership,” Kamiak’s Tracey Wright said. “Leadership overpowers the school, and the kids in Leadership have a lot of power in the school.”

Many from Kamiak and Mariner agreed that students who aren’t involved in student government or a club might feel like their voices are not heard. They said students are reaching out to each other, but said the district could do more to give students their voice.

However, students at ACES didn’t feel like that was the case. Many said that while they felt they weren’t being heard at Kamiak or Mariner, that changed once they transferred to ACES.

“Staff would hear my voice when I would more or less get in trouble,” ACES’s Peter Best said. “They would listen to my side and not just hear what the teacher had to say. I felt that they were fair in punishment.”

Several students suggested administrators, teachers and staff use social media – such as Facebook or Twitter – to open lines of communication.

“In order for your voice to be heard, you have to speak up, but a lot of people don’t like to speak up,” Austin said.

They said that while not all students are involved in school clubs or ASB, they most likely have a Facebook or Twitter account and may feel more comfortable posting comments on the Internet.

“If the district could have some kind of page… where they could anonymously make suggestions, I feel that’s pretty crucial to the success of hearing students that don’t necessarily want to speak up,” he said.

When asked which class, sport or activity they wished they had an opportunity to access, several students said a foreign language or AP class that would help them in their careers.

“Many students need direction,” Kamiak’s Kevin Bowen said. “Classes that can spark an interest in a subject that will potentially lead us to a major or help us get a job in the future are extremely important.”

The classes they suggested their schools add to or keep in the curriculum included Mandarin, Russian, ASL, Economics and Robotics.

Asked how they feel they’ve been prepared for life after high school, many students said their AP classes helped to prepare them the most.

“AP classes honestly teach you responsibility,” Kamiak’s Austin Strand said. “They really bring a large work load, so you have to learn how to put first things first.

“The reason AP classes are so great is because it does prepare us for college. They lead us in the right direction.”

Others cited MESA (Math, Engineering and Science Achievement class), school counselors and career centers as sources of their success.

“[MESA] gave me a bigger outlook on college,” Mariner’s Adama Marenah said. “It provided a lot of scholarships for me to fill out, and it basically prepared me for SATs and ACTs.”

The board members said they will keep the students’ comments in mind when making decisions at future meetings.

“It was heartening to hear them express gratitude for the academic rigor required of them, the multiple options available in the district and the support and encouragement they have received from staff,” Schwab said.

“It made me feel really proud of our kids and optimistic for their future.”

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