By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Kenwood students Regan Allen and Ryan Stratton are two of 18 students who were chosen as members of the Chicago Public Schools Student Advisory Council (SAC).
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she established the council so that they could share ideas from a student perspective with CPS senior leadership. This is the first time that CPS has formed an SAC.
The SAC includes juniors that represent 15 high schools across the city and a range of ethnicities, interests and experiences. The group meets two to three times a week and meets with Byrd-Bennett every two months to express the thoughts, hopes and concerns of their fellow students.
“At Kenwood, funding is a big concern,” Allen said. “The students feel that the school is underfunded and the books are falling apart. They also think the suburban schools are getting better materials and we are getting hand-me-downs.”
In addition to meeting with CPS leadership, staff members from the Mikva Challenge organization have been working with the SAC to help them improve their leadership, public speaking, decision-making and team-building skills.
“We want to be a voice for the students who feel like their opinions are not heard by CPS,” Stratton said. “We’re learning how to advocate for others and how to work in groups.”
Stratton said she likes working with students from across the city and learning what some of their concerns are.
“Our school has strong administration and teacher support but students at other schools that we visit say they have never met their principals,” Stratton said.
Allen said he’s looking forward to the SAC becoming just as tight-knit as students at Kenwood. He said some students on the council spoke about going to and from school in fear of violence, which makes him grateful for the calm environment at Kenwood.
“There are over 2,000 students at [Kenwood] and all of us speak to each other as we pass by in the hallways,” Allen said. “I hope to bring that family vibe to the student advisory council.”
Stratton said although the SAC is a diverse group with a variety of concerns their shared goal is to make the city and school system better.
“We hope that the student voice will not be overlooked when CPS makes school decisions,” Allen said. “We’re all students, we mean something and what we have to say matters.”