Students Speak Up at Illuminate Lakeville
On April 23, high school students across our district gathered in person and virtually to participate in the Illuminate Lakeville student conference. Illuminate Lakeville was a student-led idea conference facilitated by Paula Forbes, who has been leading the Board of Education in diversity, equity and inclusion training, her partner Dario Otero of (CEO/Founder Youth Lens 360), and district administration. Students focused on generating solutions and creating change in order to ensure every student receives a world class education in a safe and nurturing environment and close the opportunity gap. All students at Lakeville North and Lakeville South High Schools were invited.
Students who chose to participate gathered in both schools’ commons and online to participate in a world cafe-style event, where they had small group discussions around three big questions:
- How might we create safe spaces for every individual to show up as their authentic selves and be valued for the gifts they have to offer?
- How might we raise awareness of the inequities around us and create possible solutions to address them?
- How do we ensure that every student receives a world class education and is able to access all of the resources Lakeville Area Schools has to offer?
At the end of the event, students shared their top ideas and what they learned by listening to others. Then, on May 25, students from the core planning team shared the most common ideas with the Board of Education and Administration. Themes included wanting to talk more about current events, more opportunities to learn about different cultures, more mental health support for students, and to continue having the opportunity to share their perspectives.
The student leaders also shared their “aha” moments and reflections on the conference with the Board of Education.
Delaney Spencer (sr, LSHS) helped lead the virtual conference and shared how much she appreciated getting the chance to hear from students from both high schools. She expressed her gratitude for the adult leaders who supported this work.
Alexa Ragjieram (sr, LNHS) also appreciated the support they received as student leaders. “The best part about working with our facilitators was them putting everything into our hands. It was really a student-led conference and that’s what made it successful,” Ragjieram said.
When asked about the experiences of having difficult conversations around what can sometimes be sensitive topics, Samuel Scheffler (jr, LSHS) explained that, “a big thing that Mrs. Forbes would talk about is of course it’s natural to disagree or have those feelings, but to turn to wonder, not to anger. Everything in the world is grey. Nothing is really black and white.”
Lauren Mccutcheon (jr, LNHS) said her biggest takeaway was that so many students had the same concern and agreed on what was needed to create a better education and environment for all students.
Aleah Degroot (so, LNHS) reflected a sentiment that many students seemed to share, even though the conversation topics were sometimes difficult: “The best moment, even though I loved it all, was being able to see the hope in a lot of the students that participated in the activity.”