Group seeks to improve equity at school

February 11, 2018 — by Chelsea Leung and Emilie Zhou

Hundreds of phones shone in the dark as students texted their responses to various questions asked by the Leadership class during the Speak Up For Change assembly in early January. These questions were compiled by a mostly unknown equity team to address important issues in the school and hear the students’ opinions on them.  

The equity team was assembled during the fall semester. the Leadership class attended.

This group was originally comprised of staff members who were on the Social Emotional Learning team (SEL), guidance counselor Eileen Allen said. The SEL team then later evolved into the equity team, which included students as well.

“The district office had an initiative and goal to address equity at both high schools and felt our group was a great place to start,” Allen said.

A few Leadership students from various grade levels and commissions were then added to complete the team. Since then, the team, which has 12 members, has been attending trainings with an organization called Epoch to learn more about the equity principles and possible barriers students are facing.

The equity team creates projects that help analyze school culture. For example, the team organized in-class surveys and the phone survey at the Speak Up For Change assembly. They also worked with the student-run Facebook page “Humans of Saratoga High,” or HOSH, on a Speak Up For Change photo campaign.

Currently, the team is focusing on racial equity and is planning to hold a movie night where they will play movies like “Hidden Figures” that deliver messages about race in America.

“Our Saratoga bubble is not very representative of the whole word in terms of ethnicity and race,” said senior Soumya Nimmu, a member of the equity team. “It’s really important that we talk about giving voices to the smaller communities on our campus, as well as prepare our students to be good citizens in the larger world.”

In addition, the team is also working with the rest of the students and staff. They’ve held presentations at staff collaboration meetings and are planning a World Cafe for staff and community members. The team is also planning to introduce a program called “Breaking Down the Walls” to students and staff next year.

Though the team is still relatively new, members are optimistic about what equity can do for the school and the community.

“The main purpose of the equity team is to create a school community that is more inclusive and encourages discussion on complicated, yet necessary and relevant topics,” Nimmu said. “We want to foster a community that’s more inclusive and where people feel free to talk about any issues that they have.”

 

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