The students speak: Glendale High School hosts the first student voice panel of 2020


Stacey Hovhannisyan

The 13 students were grouped by school and sat together as they waited for the questions.

As members of the GUSD community walked through the door, the 13 student representatives waited for the questions that could help guide the upcoming school year.

On Jan. 21, two to three students from every high school in the Glendale Unified School District came together to discuss District-wide issues with GUSD’s Board of Education. This panel discussed four main topics: belonging, school-spirit, punctuality and communication.

The discussion commenced when the question about belonging was brought up. Several of the African American panelists said that they face racism every day, whether it is in the classroom or hallways. “There has not been one single day where I have walked through the school without being called some derogatory name,” said Frank Higginbotham, a freshman from Hoover. Higginbotham said that when he recently went to the school library, they did not have a single book on Martin Luther King Jr. “Since when did we live in the 1980s,” Higginbotham said. “This shouldn’t be a problem in 2020.” 

Several panelists also argued that since the majority of their school is Armenian, the minorities aren’t supported in their schools. Senior Geena Mueller from Glendale High said that it would be smart to try to promote clubs like Latinos Unidos or Multicultural Club more often. “We should have a day where all the clubs should get together and celebrate together,” Mueller said.

The panelists all shot up their hands when the topic of school spirit was asked. Senior David Abovian from Clark said that ever since Clark elected new ASB advisor Shari Scott-Sawyer, Clark is developing its own school spirit. “We are hesitant towards these new events,” Abovian said, “but slowly this will become more of a regular practice.”

Events were thrown around the room — from prom to foam parties to movie nights. One problem discussed was the payment of these events due to the abundance of low-income students. “It doesn’t matter where we host the events. All that matters is that people enjoy it,” said Marco Villagrana, a senior from Daily High School.

The least discussed topic of the night was about punctuality. Because the question didn’t apply to all the students, not many of the panelists spoke. One of the panelists said that several students come to school late or not at all due to the growing incidence of mental illness. Supt. Dr. Vivian Ekchian said that this topic would definitely come up in the next panel. “This is such an important topic that it deserves its own section,” Ekchian said. “We will have this for our future panel.”

The night finished with a talk about communication between the staff and students. Abovian said that Clark’s communication was one of the best he has encountered. “All the staff treat you as one of their equals,” Abovian said. “I’m glad Clark gives this opportunity to build alliances with the administration.”