Students examine strong and weak points of their education
Students from the three Glenwood Springs high schools respect most of their teachers, but believe that some of them are lacking in training.
They want harder classes and want to be rewarded for passing.
They say overcrowded schools and the rift between Latino and Anglo students are growing problems.
Students have plenty of educated comments to make about their schools and their education. They just need someone to listen.
More than 20 students from Bridges, Yampah Mountain and Glenwood Springs high schools were heard Wednesday by the Roaring Fork Re-1 Board of Education.
Their comments will be presented to members of the Strategic Planning Committee for consideration in the district’s Strategic Plan, set for completion this summer.
Board members facilitated as students commented on a series of questions, ranging from what they were most proud of at their school to what services and programs the district should or shouldn’t provide.
“I think Bridges is real great, it’s a strong point,” said Bridges sophomore Katy Curry, when asked what the district’s greatest strengths are.
“Clubs like FBLA are good, and so is the Climate Committee,” a student organization that welcomes incoming freshmen to the school, said Glenwood Springs High School freshman Kalee Fisher.
When asked what they’re proud of, students brought up Yampah and Bridges high school. They’re proud of the English as a Second Language, Project Star and other programs that help students improve their grades, and the Futures program, which encourages students to stay in school. They’re proud of their athletics programs, service clubs and teachers.
“Almost all the teachers are willing to stay after school and help,” said Fisher.
When asked what improvements the district could make, students spoke candidly about the increasingly overcrowded conditions at at GSHS, and how some teachers are not trained to handle students in an appropriate manner.
When asked how the district can improve its education, some students said they would like to see more individualized learning tracks where they can earn a diploma in a particular area of study rather than just a one-size-fits-all diploma.
Some would like to see the number of credits earned in a course match the difficulty of that course.
Students also want tougher courses that prepare them for college.
“Science classes need new textbooks,” said Arturo Pontiano, a freshman at GSHS.
The biggest challenges the district faces, many students agreed, are racism and cultural differences, violence on and off school grounds, growing populations, and the possibility that escalating problems in the Middle East could affect people in America.
The high cost of living was brought up as a serious problem, as was the need for more ESL courses.
Students also expressed concern that low teacher salaries make it hard to hire and keep good teachers in the district.
When asked what the district’s primary mission should be, students generally agreed that it should be to prepare students for college and beyond.
“I think you need to prepare people not only for academics but for life in general,” said Cambri Crow, a junior at Bridges.
School board members asked students what they will need to be successful in the job market.
“Good interpersonal skills, definitely,” said Crow politely.
Other students said a good work ethic is vital in the job market, and knowing how to find and interview for a job are important. Most agreed that vocational job skills will be valuable in the future, particularly in the area of computers.
When asked which community organizations the district should partner with, students responded with “as many community organizations as possible.”
Those might include the Glenwood Springs Arts Council, city and county governments, law enforcement agencies and nonprofits designed to help citizens, all of which can provide a broader education as well as more volunteer and internship opportunities.
In the future, students said they would like to see more advanced classes made available. They also want to become more involved politically and offer more volunteer services in the community.
While students can present comments to the school board at any time, the board has for several years met annually with students to hear their comments and gather information about issues confronting them both in and out of the classroom.
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