Council Aims to Amplify Student Voices at Town Hall Meeting

  • In an effort to give a voice to urban school students, the Council of the Great City Schools’ national town hall meeting on Oct. 27 in San Diego will feature an all-student panel.

    Eight high school students from Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Reno, San Diego, and St. Paul will participate in a 90-minute town hall moderated by Sequoia Carrillo, a reporter for NPR's Education Team.

    Carrillo covers K-12 education and regularly reports on issues such as school segregation and infrastructure challenges.  From 2020 to 2022, she managed the Student Podcast Challenge, an initiative to get younger voices on the airwaves; and she still travels around the country with the contest to hear students' stories.

    The town hall forum will be held in conjunction with the Council’s 67th Annual Fall Conference and hosted by the San Diego Unified School District.

    “The Council works to improve the education of the nation’s urban school children, so it is vital that the organization hear directly from the students they serve,” said Council Executive Director Ray Hart. “This town hall will provide students -- who are most impacted by the decisions urban school leaders make -- the opportunity to be in front of an audience of the nation’s big-city school board members and superintendents, where they will be able to share their unique perspectives.”

    Scheduled to participate on the panel are:

    Hanan Ali, a junior at Highland Park Senior High School in St. Paul, Minn., who has been enrolled in the Chinese Immersion Program since kindergarten making Mandarin her third language. A Somali American, she is a member of the African Student Association, vice president of the Black Student Union, and a participant in College Possible, a college access program;

    Arabelle Deason, a junior at Robert McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada, who serves as the student trustee on the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees.  In addition, she is the president of Student Voice, a council of students in Washoe County dedicated to speaking up for each of the 62,000 students they serve;

    Kariana Douglas, a senior at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who participates in Florida Youth SHINE, a youth-led organization that empowers current and former youth in foster care to become leaders and advocates within their communities;

    Jamir Lawson, a senior and the student body president at Baltimore School for the Arts in Baltimore, where he facilitates open communication between students and the school's administration, organizes town hall meetings, and coordinates successful general assembly meetings;

    Matthew Quitoriano, a junior at San Diego High School, who serves as a student member on the San Diego Unified School District school board. He is actively involved with his school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Mock Trial, Model United Nations, and Academic League;

    Elena Ramos, a senior at School of Health Professions at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center in Dallas, who is secretary of her school’s HOSA organization, a member of the National Honor Society, and the Townview Executive Student Board;

    Zoey Schwartz, a senior at Cleveland Humanities Magnet in Los Angeles, who is captain of the debate team and president of the Gender Sexuality Alliance. They are also the founder of I.U.Y. (I Understand You), a website that provides a safe virtual space for people to share their coming-out stories and connect with peer mentors; and

    Kate Todd, a senior at Denver East High School in Denver, who is president of the East Sustainability Club and vice president of DPS Students for Climate Action, a youth-led organization that helped pass and implement a district-wide climate policy;

    The Council’s national town hall will be livestreamed Friday, Oct. 27 at 2:30 p.m. PST. #StudentVoices2023