Monday, April 22, 2024

Young agents of change

Staff Writer | February 24, 2024 1:06 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — Students in the Coeur d'Alene School District's Student Advisory Group are serious about effecting positive change in their school communities.

At the elementary level, SAG members are discussing some important topics: bullying and safety, not leaving anyone out of activities, improving the school experience and dialing in on cafeteria food and beverage options that satisfy the masses.

SAG's elementary representatives met Thursday afternoon at Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities to discuss these issues as they worked on a survey they will soon send out to their peers. Prompted by adviser Charlene Babb, they explored such questions such as, "Do you know who your SAG representative is at your school?" and "Do you feel safe in school?"

“I joined SAG because I had an issue at my school and I wanted to change it,” Northwest Expedition Academy fifth grader Blair Burke said. “I talked to my friends that went to different schools and they had the same issue, and I wanted to join SAG because it’s all the schools, not just our school.”

SAG formed in 2020 as a way for students to have more of a voice in their schools and offer their ideas and opinions on issues, interests and priorities that matter to them and their classmates. It comprises second-through-12th-grade students who were selected to serve as representatives from every school in the district. Chaired by Lake City High senior Luke Sharon, the group regularly meets.

“It’s such a big part of everything,” Sorensen fifth grader Finley Taylor said. "I remember there was a suggestion a while ago to get a gaga ball pit and then we got it a few weeks later. That was really fun to see. Now, I was so excited to be in SAG because I could make those big changes.”

Fellow Sorensen fifth grader and SAG representative Ezra Swingrover said he noticed his school was in need of a gaga ball pit when he was in kindergarten. Gaga ball, a high-energy game played in an octagonal pit, is super popular with school-age kids.

"Every year I asked to have a gaga ball pit, and now we’ve got one," Ezra said.

A few SAG students usually attend school board meetings to provide Coeur d'Alene trustees and staff members with updates about the work the group is conducting as well as the issues they're experiencing at their schools.

At the high school level, SAG reps recently worked with the school board on updating the district's policy. After months of input and several meetings, it was a win-win for students and staff alike.

The elementary students are now especially working on how to get the word out to their peers about SAG so they know they have student peers advocating on their behalf.

“What I want to achieve is making my school better," NExA third grade SAG representative Vinni Gongora said. "I don’t want to hear any negativity about my school because I want it to be what people like.”


    Northwest Expedition Academy fifth grader Blair Burke shares her opinion during a discussion at the elementary Student Advisory Group meeting Thursday at Sorensen Magnet School.
    Coeur d'Alene School District Community Relations Director Stefany Bales gives Student Advisory Group members pointers on engaging their peers and raising awareness about their group during a Thursday evening meeting at Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities.

    Vinni Gongora, Northwest Expedition Academy third grader, talks about food and beverage options in the elementary schools during a Thursday meeting of the Coeur d'Alene School District's Student Advisory Group.