Greetings, Eagle Families and Friends,
We make every attempt to evoke leadership from our students. To that end, we have established six student advisory groups that we meet with regularly. Each student advisory committee is represented by multiple individuals from each grade level. These student advisors help us take a fresh look at our practices and traditions; in turn, we create opportunities for student governance and help develop decision-making skills. The symbiotic relationship between Sandburg administration and student advisors has served to successfully advance our school improvement goals of learning and connectedness. I share some examples as follows:
Our Superintendent’s Advisory met with me, Dr. Gay, our Superintendent, John Connolly, Chief Technology Officer, and Associate Principal Derrick Smith in mid-September. Our conversation this time around focused quite a bit on technology - How are the Chromebooks? Any gaps in connectivity noticed? Benefits of Canvas? Things seem to be going quite well. One senior reported that she went from multiple 2-inch binders to only one and that her backpack is “way lighter” than it used to be. Multiple students reported how more organized they have become because of the digitalization of their schoolwork. All student members appreciate the ready access of coursework resources through Canvas and their ability to get to them “on our time.” At this particular meeting, students recommended the addition of printer kiosks in the building, especially for zero hour students. We’re on it.
Launched last year, our EL Student Advisory involves a group of students who represent over a dozen different native countries. When the advisory first started meeting, student members were exceptionally shy about expressing their thoughts and opinions. The adults who facilitate this group, English/Music/EL Division Chair Sarah Smith, Associate Principal Brian Klene, and I took a great deal of time to build trust and to develop this group’s collective voice. At our first meeting of this new school year, Mrs. Smith noted that it was evident that the students now know how much we value their unique experiences and stated “crickets no more.” At the September meeting, we continued our conversation about motivation and how we can improve cultural competency.
The Captain’s Council is comprised of athletic team captains and/or student leaders identified by coaches and is now facilitated by our Athletic Director, Mr. Tom Freyer. At the September meeting, the first under the direction of Mr. Freyer, these student advisors talked about how they can serve the school as “ambassadors.” They brainstormed a list of school events where their presence would make sense - starting with the October Open House to greet the Class of 2022 at its first transition event. Look for a greater presence of these student leaders at other school events; we’re talking about special shirts for this group as a way to identify them more easily.
Under the special guidance and mentorship of Assistant Principal Greg Gardner, our Superfanz meet at least twice a month - sometimes more - to organize themes, Freshman Spirit Training, and school spirit activities. These student advisors also make recommendations for incentives that are posted to our Superfanz app and have made enormous strides in promoting ALL school events, from Friday night football to Chess matches. The group brought an amazing honor to our school last year when they earned the State Title in the IHSA Student Section Showdown.
Some students enjoy co-curricular participation but at a different level from that of our Superfanz, so we have created another student advisory group called the Co-Curricular Student Advisory, also led by Assistant Principal Greg Gardner. This year, these student advisors will assist our efforts to interview students who are not yet involved in any co-curricular activity. Together, we will then analyze our findings to determine how we can engage and empower more students through co-curricular life.
Every month, often accompanied by Mr. Smith and Mr. Gardner, I meet with the Executive Board of our Student Council. These student advisors not only organize major events for the school, like our Homecoming Assembly, Homecoming Dance, and Turnabout, but also serve as elected representatives of the student body responsible for bringing specific concerns forward to school administration. This group, for example, has asked me to look into healthier menu options in the cafeteria. As a result of some conversations last year, I am also engaging all AP teachers in efforts to reduce stress levels of AP students, help them better organize their time, and coordinate project and assessment timelines, particularly at the junior level. At my request two years ago, Student Council has begun to coordinate kindness and empathy campaigns like “Carl Cares Week.”
About 100 students participate on the advisory committees described above. We believe strongly that the advisory committee experience is another opportunity to learn with greater depth and understanding and that through dynamic discussion and shared inquiry, we are building resiliency and nurturing the change agents of the future. Bravo to these students - and to you as their guardians, parents, and as their number one advisors.
I hope to see you at parent-teacher conferences on Tuesday, October 10th from noon to 7 pm!