The first student voice panel of the school year was held Oct. 20 through a virtual Zoom meeting. With two to three student representatives from each GUSD high school, 13 panelists gathered to discuss four main topics: attendance and engagement, communication, school spirit and belonging.
Clark representatives included seniors Mark Benliyan and Nagashreya Guntireddy and sophomore Daria Rybak.
Maria Akhverdyan, a senior from Hoover High School, facilitated the discussion between the panelists and GUSD’s Board of Education, leading with a question about student attendance and participation.
Most panelists agreed that by creating a welcoming environment teachers can help students feel more motivated to attend and participate in their classes. Panelists also addressed the limitations of online learning. “Teachers’ environments can only push students so far,” said Jenna Zwickl, a senior from Glendale High School. “My peers feel discouraged when teachers aren’t supportive of technical difficulties.”
At the same time, panelists recognize how teachers are facing the challenges of teaching in an entirely new way, such as connecting with their students online. Senior Victor Baro from Daily High School explained how one of his teachers uses five to ten minutes of class to talk about students’ personal lives and feelings. “Teachers have been supportive with office hours and reminders of class and school events,” said Laurah Chau, a senior from Glendale High School.
There was a thorough discussion about technical difficulties and the need for technical support in the district. Many panelists expressed that some of their teachers should be more patient with their students, especially with the unique circumstances of remote learning. “Patience is a virtue. We’ve all lost patience, and we need teachers to have patience with us,” said Isabelle Wright, a junior from Crescenta Valley High School.
Following the discussion on attendance and engagement, Akhverdyan asked the Board of Education members if they had any comments or follow-up questions for the student panel. Board President Dr. Armina Gharpetian, in response to the technical difficulties, suggested a help button or official GUSD app to help students, teachers and parents with future problems.
Panelists then discussed the topic of communication. Students mentioned that, although teachers do their best to reply to emails, some emails just can’t be replied to in a reasonable time frame. For improved communication between students and teachers, panelists recommended the use of apps such as Remind.
School spirit was briefly discussed. Benliyan said that Clark’s school spirit has increased in the past year. “The school’s slowly taking steps to incorporate events like rallies and talent shows, which has upped the school’s spirit.” Akhverdyan explained how Hoover’s hosted a video game contest and plans to have a TikTok contest.
Panelists also discussed belonging and the importance of reminders from their teachers to help them feel more involved with school. “Clubs provide a sense of belonging for students,” said Juliana Acevedo, a senior from Hoover High School. Club participation, however, differed across the district. While Acevedo experienced less consistency and membership in clubs, Zwickl saw a higher turnout of club sign-ups this year. Benliyan expressed that, while clubs allow for better student and teacher connections, the biggest challenge this year is developing a connection with new club members.
After answering the final questions, the discussion was again passed over to the Board of Education. Shortly after, the audience was given the chance to ask questions, some involving advice on improving work/life balance and mental health.
Despite the problems of remote learning, Benliyan shared that administrators are doing as best they can during these difficult circumstances. “All administrators have done well in making students feel welcomed, and I’m very thankful for that,” Benliyan said.