Student Voices

This week had a few events come to pass which coalesced around the theme of student voices. It started last Friday at our creativity workshop presentations, which were especially impressive. Watching Molly Kucher put together a 12 foot long “poster presentation” on the history of Nike sports advertising while Angus Gilbert dressed in full fireman gear in order to display his learnings under the tutelage of SVFD provided some intriguing visuals and reminders of the broad spread of interests our students will pursue when given the time and space. There were several ski videos, a goofy presentation of a ‘project runway’ class, a group of singers, and many other reminders of the creative talent of these youngsters. The day ended with the seniors discussing their plans for their Independent Trimesters- a full culmination of all of these skills and interests together.

Then, I received final copies of a set of videos that an alum, Travis Wilkinson put together as You-tube style advertisements for the school. They contain the views from the student perspective, teacher voices, the founding story, and the journey of adolescence itself. They are about a minute long and will soon be loaded onto our website. More than that, they represent the power of a student who spent 7 years with us crafting his ability to communicate and create. They also represent the capacity of our students to sift through a pile of complex information and choose what is important and what is irrelevant. The ability to find and communicate the essence is a golden trait, and these videos are living proof that skill is being practiced here at Sage.

Finally, we had several of our students speak at the Blaine County School District Board meeting about the dual enrollment policy. This was, perhaps, the most impressive of the 3 examples of ‘student voices’ this week. Students were upset at the new policy. They asked what they could do, and I said they should speak at the board meeting. I met with a few that were planning to do so after school for 5 minutes to talk about decorum and about how the process will work. Then, on their own, and quite impressively, 10 individual students showed up at the board meeting and 5 of them chose to file for their right to speak their minds. They spoke of passion, of commitment, of community, of justice, of opportunities, of personal growth, of standards, of friendships, of shared identities, of common goals, of their hope for future generations and their hope for themselves, and of the hope for solutions that bring people together. They could have just complained and done nothing. They could have name-called and whined. Instead, they saw the full impact of these decisions and how best to communicate. They saw this policy within a societal structure and they understood the interlinking relationships. They spoke respectfully and compassionately about a topic that affects them deeply.

They cared.

They acted.

They spoke their minds confidently and powerfully.

They chose the path on their own.

They will carry these habits forward.

They make us proud.

They make us grateful to be in their presence.

Thank you.

Chris McAvoy

Founder, Sage School