WCSD hosted its fourth annual Strength in Voices Conference on April 27, 2018 at Truckee Meadows Community College.

“Student Voice provides an incredible opportunity for students to be involved in their education and speak about issues they can help problem-solve in their schools. During this event we will have various speeches and student stories highlighting Student Voice in our district. There will also be several sessions for the students to learn about topics important to WCSD and engage in discussion as they share their thoughts. As students, we are honored to lead this conference and give you the opportunity to learn with other students in WCSD! All students are encouraged to openly share their experiences, thoughts, and ideas around various topics.” – Kierra Capurro, WCSD Student Advisory Council

We are so thankful for those who contributed to this event! Click HERE to link to find more resources about student voice.

Student facilitators were featured throughout the day as they led each of the sessions below!

Session #1 – The Path Forward: Are You College and Career Ready?

An interactive exploration session filled with fun and colorful hands-on activities. Attendees will discuss how the educational system does and should prepare them for life after high school. Participants will look at data and provide recommendations on how WCSD can make sure students are prepared for college and careers.

Student Facilitators: TMCC HS Students – Ahtziry Vasquez and Dalia Marin-Rios
Adult Facilitators: Ron Coombs and Nick Kuster

Session #2 – One Small Step or a Giant Leap?

Changing school levels from elementary to middle school, middle to high school, and postgraduation presents many challenges and impacts all students differently. In this session, we will discuss and demonstrate these challenges through several activities and provide useful information you can take back to your schools!

Student Facilitators: AACT HS Students – Josh Bernhard and Emery O’Bryant
Adult Facilitators: JT Stark & Jason Van Houck

Session #3 – What These Tests Say about YOU and Your School

Eat a good breakfast? Be fully prepared? Why do we even take these tests? What do these tests “say” about me or my school? This session will talk about various assessments (SBAC, ACT, PSAT, finals…) that we all have to take to get an idea of where we are academically. Attendees will engage in a conversation around their own testing experiences and how they believe these tests represent them and their school.

Student Facilitators: McQueen HS Students ‐ Hailey Gilles and Shane Helton
Adult Facilitators: Ben Hayes and Kyle Kemp

Session #4 – It Takes a Village: The Effects of Bullying on School Communities and Why EVERYONE Must Become Part of the Solution.

This session will discuss the effects of being a victim, witness, or perpetrator of bullying. After a brief presentation regarding academic research associated with bullying, data from Washoe County High School students will be presented to initiate discussion. We will end with a group activity to illustrate the long-term effects of bullying.

Student Facilitators: Nicole Fierro (Sparks HS) and Anthony Skelton (AACT HS)
Adult Facilitators: Josh Padilla

Session #5 – Why Is It So Hard to Get to School?

Chronic absenteeism is a complex issue that affects our students’ success in school. Educators want to help, but often lack awareness of why students might be missing school. Sometimes educators might believe that students who miss school care less about their education than they really do. The reality is that students want to go to school, but sometimes don’t have the support they need. The first step to supporting them is to give them a voice about why they are absent. During this session, the audience will be presented with data and personal student stories of resiliency before they help find solutions to common barriers students face, such as homelessness or other issues.

Student Facilitators: Tierra Guerrero (Innovations HS), Sarah Cole (AACT HS), and Jazsae Brown (Sparks HS)
Adult Facilitators: Katie Morales, Rechelle Murillo, and Brenda Chavez

Session #6 – Discover Your True Color

Each of us has a different and unique personality; however, there are commonalities that we share. True Colors is an attempt to identify various personality styles and label them with colors. Everyone has some degree of each color, but one color is predominant. Once you learn your color and that of your peers, you will have a better understanding of why they behave the way they do!

Student Facilitators: Quin Shaffer (Swope MS)
Adult Facilitator: Trish Shaffer

Session: #7 – Student Inclusion: How Can I Help?

Ever feel left out? Ever wish someone would reach out to you? Discover ways you can help others feel included at your school. Join us and meet students from other schools as we brainstorm about things we can do to help include students in the day-to-day activities at your school who are living in poverty, learning English, gifted and talented, or have disabilities. We will open with an M&M activity (sorry, not the candy!) and wrap-up with an exciting and challenging Human Knot (be prepared to laugh!). Your ideas will be summarized and posted on the student voice website. This is an opportunity to let your voice be heard and become part of the change in your school!

Student Facilitators: Galena HS Students – Kierra Capurro and Ben Reynolds
Adult Facilitators: Norma Velasquez-Bryant and Ginny Beck

Session #8 ‐ School Safety? Yeah… That’s Important!

Come hear how students REALLY feel about the safety of their school according to the results of the Annual Student Climate Survey taken by 24,000 students in the school district. Session participants will team up and compete in a fun, fast-paced game to test their knowledge about school safety. Finally, students will work together to come up with ideas for how to make all students feel safe, respected, and welcome at school. Your recommendations for improving the safety of schools will be shared with the WCSD Safe and Healthy Schools Commission later this year. Come have an impact on the safety of all Washoe County Schools!

Student Facilitators: North Valleys HS Students – Janelle Cuenca and Tyler Johnson
Adult Facilitators: Randy Brown and Brian Farrow

Session: #9 – Why is This ‘Teenager Thing’ So Hard?! Getting SMART About Stress

The struggle is real! Balancing school, family, relationships, and personal interests is so hard! Teenagers have big dreams but often feel so overwhelmed by stress that they need a little extra help staying focused. In this session, participants will learn how to break down stress and make it more manageable. By engaging in hands-on activities and group discussions, participants will identify stressors they experience in their lives and then set appropriate SMART goals for a better pathway to their future.

Student Facilitator: TMCC HS Students – Sophie Dinning and Paolo Nipay
Adult Facilitators: Erin Dawson and Micaela Gerardin-Frey

Session #10 – Equity: Making it Fair for Everyone!

Are all WCSD students treated equally? How can we make sure all students have a fair school experience? In this session participants will discuss the concept of equity and how it relates to individual experiences. A strategy for examining whether your school has fair and equitable practices will be shared. This session will lay the foundation for students to share in an equitable school community.

Student Facilitators: Wooster HS Students – Anonti Ali and Nathan Noble
Adult Facilitators: Jennifer Harris and Tony Montgomery

Session #11 – Come Here, Go Away: The Things We Say TO Our Families ABOUT Our Education

Have you ever felt like you wanted your family to be more (or less) involved in your education, but you didn’t know how to ask them? You’re not alone. Students from Corbett Elementary School, Vaughn Middle School and Wooster High School will share their experiences about how they invite (or dis-invite) their families to be engaged in their education. Then, they’ll ask you to talk about your families too! You will walk away with a new way you can ask your family to support you in school.

Student Facilitators: Corbett ES Students – Jocelyn Jacobo and Nick Ramirez; Vaughn MS Students – Kale Hyatt-Combs and Carolina Serratos; Wooster HS Students – Madison Bible and Allie Hamilton
Adult Facilitators: D’Lisa Crain, Rochelle Solonia, and Erin Danielsen

Session #12 – Student Voice in the Classroom: It’s Not an Activity; It’s a Way of Life

When teachers become passionate about Student Voice, it transforms the culture of their classrooms! Come hear about a day in the life of Mrs. Cashell’s 4th grade students and Mr. Carlstrom’s 5th grade students! Students (via video footage) will describe what Student Voice looks, sounds and feels like when it is implemented in the classroom from the moment students arrive until the moment they depart. Participants will engage in a hands-on activity that demonstrates how we can create a safe yet dynamic environment that engages all learners. The audience will gain exposure to “out of the box” strategies like PBL (Project-Based Learning), QFT (Question Formulation Technique), and SEL (Social and Emotional Learning). Educators will leave with practical ideas for class wide SV and resources for getting started, community members will leave with an awareness of why SV in the classroom is worthy of promoting, and students will leave with one practice they would like to replicate at their school and a tool that helps them write a letter to their teacher/principal/other staff explaining the practice.

Student Facilitators: Anderson ES Students (via video footage)
Adult Facilitators: Jane Cashell and Tony Carlstrom

Session #13 – “Student Speaking:” How National Events Impact Your School’s Culture

Recent national events (DACA, #Metoo, NFL protests, current presidential leadership, and social media posts) have sparked much debate. Students join together to identify how these events have impacted your school’s culture and how you interact with your fellow classmates, teachers, and administrators.

Student Facilitators: Reed HS Students – Hana Altenburg, Natalia Arias, Jordan Blincoe, Lauryn Osendorf, Caleb Salgado, Daniel Taylor, and Maria Tiaseuga
Adult Facilitators: Anna Jeakins and Kendyll Pringle