The formation of a new committee is afoot at PHS. The Student Advisory Council (SAC) is a project the administration has taken on with the hope to unite students and staff and bring about positive change to the school.
Students are excited about this, ready to have their voices heard. In order to ensure this, they have a few ideas about who should be on the council. We asked our staff who they thought would best suit the role of a Student Advisory Council member and many mentioned fellow students by name. However, these students all fit into certain demographics – ones who will represent the student body and speak in their favor.
Athletes, band members and class officers were a common answer. Additionally, those who do not participate in any activities were brought up. Students in all grades, from all backgrounds need to have their opinions made known. The main priority of our staff is to have students on the council who aren’t afraid to speak their mind and who won’t sugarcoat the school-wide issues that demand more attention.
Our staff members also have suggestions on the problems that should be raised to attention first.
An ever-popular topic is the dress code. While it is always a point of tension between students and staff, the dress code rules are still somewhat vague. Our staff believes that it needs to be clearly defined and not just subjective to teachers and administrators.
A huge issue, many of our staff members feel, is the stress that is put on the dress code in the first place. We acknowledge that it is not the teachers’ fault. They have to make sure students follow the dress code as dictated by administrators, but we believe that is the problem. We don’t think the administration quite understands what it’s like to be a student anymore – especially in these times. Many students struggle to make themselves go to school in the first place and being worried about their outfits should not be a main concern.
We believe the concern should be schoolwork, but the focus is never on academics at PHS. What school is supposed to be about is seldom, if ever touched on. This leads to the need for celebration of academically successful students. The work so many students put in to maintaining their grades is never recognized, which our staff finds to be a terrible oversight. There is no motivation for students to do well if all they ever are is looked and talked down upon.
The tardiness policy is yet another area our staff thinks could use reforming. Teachers are told to count students tardy in the mornings if they aren’t in class by 8:10 a.m. This sounds perfectly reasonable; students should be in class on time. When one factors in the context, however, being on time becomes nearly impossible. Many students are in zero hour which releases at 7:50 a.m. Students then have to walk to the locker room, shower, change their clothes, get breakfast, go to their lockers to put their backpacks away and get to class before that bell rings. When breakfast lines are halfway to the cafeteria doors with one line open the majority of the time, it is impossible for students to be in their seats by the second bell with the most important meal of the day in their system. Perhaps if school started at 8:15 a.m. like it has in the past, there were more breakfast workers to keep up with the morning rush and students were allowed to bring their backpacks to class, this would not be as difficult. This morning breakfast rush is also not taking into account bus riders who may have varying times of
Similarly, our staff thinks that meal times are too short. With the passing period lasting five minutes and students having to go to their lockers to get their lunches or put things away, lunch is then only 25 minutes. This leads students to rushing their meals, especially when one has to wait to be called to the lunch line, which is not ideal.
Students, overall, need help. New students are one example. It is especially hard for students to move schools when they’re in high school. Everyone already has their friend groups established, so students find it tough to make a place for themselves. Even students who moved here in the last couple of years still feel somewhat isolated from others – like they haven’t been accepted yet. We think initiative needs to be taken to not only welcome these transfers, but continue to include them throughout school.
Student mental health is a big issue at PHS. With extreme stress, a never-ending workload and what is mostly viewed as a hostile learning environment, mental breakdowns are bound to happen. No student is a stranger to the fact that sometimes it is simply too hard to be at school and a break is necessary. As a result, many of us take mental health days. Our staff believes these mental health days should be provided for students and accepted as excused absences – one or so per grading period to give students a day to breathe.
We think all of these issues should be addressed by the Student Advisory Council. If they are a committee able to make a difference, the SAC needs to tackle matters that the student body cares about even if they are tough topics to fix.