WCSD hosted its fifth annual Strength in Voices Conference on March 2, 2019 at Truckee Meadows Community College. This was a day dedicated to listening to student voices and inspiring students and educators to work in partnership to improve our schools. The theme of the conference was “Change: It Starts with YOUth!” Students and staff were empowered with information, tools, and resources to help them find and use their voice to enact positive change in our schools and community.
The emcees for the event were Traci Davis, WCSD Superintendent and Ashley Cooper, Student Advisory Council Member and Senior at McQueen High School.

All breakout session topics were chosen by the student planning committee and included SEL (Social Emotional Learning), equity, dress code, mental health, art as an expression of voice and many others. Breakout sessions were facilitated by students with support from WCSD staff. Approximately 400 students and staff members from various schools across all grade levels attended the event and will start a student voice project at their schools following the event.

Click HERE to watch a video about the conference and 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 Missing Piece of the Puzzle is YOUth

Each student is unique, but those differences aren’t always appreciated. In this session, you will learn about empathy and self‐empowerment to help you understand differing perceptions and perspectives. You will see how even though everyone is different, we are all important pieces of the puzzle in society and education.

Student Facilitators: Lyn Galindo‐Cloud (McQueen HS), Katelynne Paez (Sparks HS) and Anthony Lopez (Sparks HS)
Adult Facilitators: Bethany Sheridan (WCSD Accountability) and Brian Farrow (WCSD MTSS)

Session #2 – Clean Up the Mess: STRESS LESS!

Surveys show that students are under enormous amounts of pressure both from outside sources and from stressors they place on themselves. This is a problem because stressed students struggle more to stay engaged in school. This session will give students an opportunity to speak about what stresses them out and learn some coping strategies so they can take control and stress less, including by making a STRESS BALL to take home.

Student Facilitators: Clayton MS Students – Justin Dahlgren, Madeline Grimm, Jayden Valencia, Alexa Wong, Hannah Zamora
Adult Facilitators: Martha Taylor (Clayton MS) and Ron Coombs (WCSD Accountability)
Resources: PowerPoint Presentation

Session #3 – Who Runs the World? YOU Do!

When YOU think about tomorrow or a few years from now, what goals do YOU have that YOU want to accomplish? In this session, we want to hear about YOUr future and help YOU by motivating YOU, providing YOU with resources to get there and making sure YOU walk out with a plan that puts YOU in control.

Student Facilitators: Wooster HS Students ‐ Victoria Gomez, Mia Shanelle Villarosa, Celeste Garcia‐Perez
Adult Facilitators: D’Lisa Crain and Maria Fernandez (WCSD Family School Partnership)

Session #4 – Inspiring Change through Storytelling: How Students Can make a Difference

In this session, you will use storytelling to talk about important issues students face in school. Two students will share their stories about obstacles that affected their school attendance and academics, shedding light on the impact of homelessness and health conditions. These student stories are a reminder of the importance of perseverance, the power of students being connected to peers and adults at school, and ability of students to determine their own futures. Then, you will get the chance to share YOUr story as we learn how to use storytelling to bring about positive change.

Student Facilitators: Hannah Williams (Innovations HS) and Zachary Highline (AACT HS)
Adult Facilitators: Jennifer Harris (WCSD Accountability) and Wylie Evanson (WCSD Intervention and Truancy)
Resources: Presentation; Video

Session #5 – How Am I Smart?

Students often think being smart means getting good grades in school, but being smart is more than reading, solving math problems, memorizing facts, or having a high IQ. In this session, you will engage in fun hands‐on activities and games that help you discover more about who you are and who you can be. Through these activities and group discussions, you will learn about the nine different intelligences (smarts) everyone has, which ones are currently your strongest, and how you can strengthen the others.

Student Facilitators: Alyssa Hammond (Mt Rose Academy), Alexys DeCremer and Allyson DeCremer (Cold Springs MS)
Adult Facilitators: Bridget James (WCSD MTSS) and Norma Velasquez‐Bryant (WCSD Accountability)
Resources: Multiple Intelligence’s Handout; Survey

Session #6 – Is It Really Fair? Making School Work for Everyone

Do you ever feel like things aren’t fair at school? Do you notice things in your school that work for some students, but not for everyone? In this session, you will look at WCSD equity data and engage in activities and discussions that allow you to share YOUr perspective of equity in YOUr school. You will also brainstorm ways to bring this conversation back to YOUr school to make things work for everyone!

Student Facilitators: Ashley Cooper and Kaitlyn Rodriguez (McQueen HS)
Adult Facilitator: Joshua Padilla (WCSD Accountability)
Resources: Video

Session: #7 – Expressing Your Voice Through Art

Learn how to use your voice and express yourself through different forms of art in this session! In this session, you will create your own collage by ripping and breaking things, then putting them back together to express your true self through art. Everyone has the capacity to create and we can learn a lot about ourselves and our view of life through art, regardless of skill or available materials. Art is a universal language that anyone can use for self‐expression without apology or fear.

Student Facilitators: North Valleys HS Students – Mer Sink, Lynn Beinert and Ricardo Rubalcaba
Adult Facilitators: Katie Brown (North Valleys HS), JT Stark and Jan Hall (WCSD Accountability)
Resources: Video

Session #8 ‐ Who Can I Run To? Finding Your Support System During Those Difficult Times

All too often, students and staff alike struggle with mental health related issues, such as anxiety, depression, and stress. Students and staff need to build connections within their schools and communities in order to develop strong support systems. In this hands‐on workshop, you will discuss the stigma around mental health and why some people are afraid to talk about it and reach out for help. You will also learn tools you can use to cope with, or help others cope with, anxiety and depression. As a collective group, we will debunk certain myths around mental health by viewing media clips which portray mental health in unrealistic ways. Participants will come away with a true realistic awareness around what mental health really is so that they can be part of the support system. It’s time to speak up and reach out!

Student Facilitators: Najeh Abduljalil (Hug HS), Christian Crump (North Valleys HS) and Ashlyn Hartz (Sparks MS)
Adult Facilitators: Andrea Kearny (WCSD MTSS) and Megan Evans (WCSD Counseling Services)

Session: #9 – Discover Your True Colors

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 four colors. Everyone has some degree of each color, but one color is predominant and shines bright as part of our personalities! Once you learn your color and that of your peers, you will have a better understanding of why people behave the way they do!

Student Facilitator: Nyala Champion Reed HS
Adult Facilitators: Maggie Folkers (WCSD MTSS) and Nick Kuster (WCSD Accountability)
Resources: True Colors Supporting Materials

Session #10 – SLIME: So, Like, I’m Majorly Emotional, so what?

Boys are more logical and girls are more emotional, right? Come find out the truth! In this session, participants will discuss gender, emotions and how beliefs about gender affect how we feel and act in school. With some help from the characters of the movie “Inside Out”, and thermo‐chromic slime, we’ll bust some common gender myths, discuss what it means to be emotional, and find out who is in their feelings – boys or girls! By engaging in tons of fun, hands‐on activities and group discussions, we will figure out who has more emotions, who has better control over their emotions, and who is a better shoulder to lean on!

Student Facilitators: Mindy Tran (Dilworth MS), Edwin Casildo, Cindy Hernandez and Michelle Lopez (North Valleys HS)
Adult Facilitators: Micaela Gerardin‐Frey (WCSD SEL) and Sarah Trescher (WCSD Accountability)
Resources: PowerPoint Presentation; Video

Session #11 – Project Dress Code

What is the dress code? Have you or someone you know been a victim of the dress code? Join us for a conversation about how we, as students, can use our voices to enact change. In this session we will increase our awareness of the dress code and discuss the unequal ways dress code is sometimes enforced.

Student Facilitators: Nathan Noble (Wooster HS), Hana Altenburg and Jordie Blinco (Reed HS)
Adult Facilitators: Marissa McClish (WCSD PGS) and Lisa Scurry (WCSD Policy Coordinator)
Resources: PowerPoint Presentation; Activity

Session #12 – Involve YOUrself

This session will explore how extracurricular activities like sports, clubs, music, JROTC, drama and art can be beneficial to students from all backgrounds. Sports and other activities lead to healthy development of students and unbreakable bonds between people. In this session, you’ll learn about how to get the most out of middle and high school by getting involved in YOUr school!

Student Facilitators: Caleb Salgado (Reed HS), Erika Hill and Josh Riggan (North Valleys HS)
Adult Facilitators: Brenda Chavez and Jason Van Houck (WCSD Accountability)

We are so proud of our students and this event! Take a moment and view some of the pictures taken that day!