Newly assembled by principal Bob Sinclair, the Student Leadership Advisory Council unites and mobilizes student leaders across Blake towards a collective goal to improve school operations and bridge the gap between administration and students.
Taking inspiration from similar advisories he created as principal of past schools, Mr. Sinclair hopes to incorporate student voices into major administrative decisions with the feedback given from this year’s group. “My belief is that if I can foster students owning decisions and the work that we are doing [on the advisory council], it will help to build pride and community building,” he says.
To get an accurate representation of the diverse student population, the student members consist of leaders from various minority groups, such as Hispanic Leadership Club and Allies 4 Equality, to general student-body representatives, like SGA and each class council.
Though the members who make up the council come from different student groups with their own unique causes, they ultimately strive to foster an environment of understanding and open discourse that embraces their diversity. “Everyone is very attentive and open to listening to each other,” says junior and Hispanic Leadership Club representative Lily Martinez. “Most of the time, we agree or add on to ideas.”
In the two meetings they have had this year, the council has addressed topics such as blended classes, upcoming school events, sexual assault, mental health and ways to break down divisions between students to encourage communication. The forum serves as a two-way street for understanding between the students’ and administration’s perspectives and priorities.
“We update [Mr. Sinclair] on the state of the school climate and issues that we’re interested in,” says senior and Allies 4 Equality leader Jonathan Yannes. “We [also] get a better idea of the things going on [from] the administrative side and get a better understanding of their abilities and limitations.”
Although mainly discussion-heavy in its early stages, the council plans to become increasingly action-oriented as they gauge what practices are most effective for Blake. “I think having [these] conversation[s] is a good first step,” says Yannes. “As time goes on, I’m hopeful that it will only get better and goals will be more easily achievable.”
The long-term goal of the council is to become entirely student-run with the agendas and outcomes defined and executed by the students. “If the work of this team is successful, they will be able to engage students and [the] student voice will be evidenced in all of the decisions made throughout the school,” says Mr. Sinclair.