Forum team brings student voice to bear on school culture

Pittsburgh Allderdice High School’s Forum team set out this year to harness student voice in service of overall school culture. After beginning late last spring with just a few kids who attended a Forum meeting in March, they’ve grown their group of participants to 35 and launched a couple of student-driven initiatives.

Interestingly, the students advocated for committees and projects to improve Allderdice that “overlap concerns of teachers and administration,” said Sarah Mueller, a chemistry and earth science teacher and Forum team member.The kids said they wanted to improve respect for school property, including cleanliness of hallways and restrooms. allderdiceAdditionally they suggested that a school store might improve school spirit and having peer tutors during study periods would improve the learning environment.

“They’re now working in their committees to put some of their ideas in motion,” Mueller said. Concurrently, the students and the Forum team await results of a school-wide survey conducted to see what other activities and committees the student body thinks are needed, she added.

While the Forum would like to increase participation in student activities, “we don’t want to be spinning our wheels on things they don’t think are important,” Mueller said.

Colleague Nikki Schmiedlin, a social studies teacher and also a Forum team member, said, “We didn’t feel there was enough student participation or accountability.” With students now trying to lead changes, “We want to keep the participation up and increase it,” she added.