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STAR Alumni Host Superintendent's Forum

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by Leonela Tasé Sueiro

On Thursday, March 31, Sarasota County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Brennan Asplen, school district officials, and 70 local high school students came together for The Club’s Superintendent’s Forum.

The annual event is organized and hosted by the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, a function of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties, in partnership with the Sarasota County School District. Throughout the year, Council members work closely with leaders in their respective schools to identify strengths and challenges within their schools. During the forum, students have the chance to voice their concerns to school administration and district officials before brainstorming solutions that will improve students’ educational experience.

This year, attendees were divided into ten groups—composed of students and district staff—and given ten topics of discussion:

Communication;

Comprehensive Curriculum;

Equity & Inclusivity in School Policies;

Future Planning;

Innovative Instruction;

Mental Health;

Safety & Security;

Substance Abuse;

Technology.

After thoughtful conversation, each group shared key insights and suggestions from their discussions, making recommendations for change. Once all ten groups had shared, Dr. Asplen held an open Q&A session with attendees and spoke about the district’s strategic plan.

The Superintendent’s Forum creates a safe space for dialogue where students and administrators can become attuned to each other’s points of view and try to reach common ground. Perhaps what students appreciate most is seeing that their school officials are not only willing to hear their feedback and concerns, but also ready to implement the changes students have deemed necessary.

“I like working with Dr. Asplen because he fully listens to students when we talk to him. Similarly, the district representative assigned to my table took notes on everything we discussed in order to try and solve some of the issues we brought up,” said Genevieve D., a senior at North Port High School (NPHS) who oversaw student recruitment at NPHS as well as other operations during the event.

Students and officials engage in table discussion about Safety & Security.

Will M., a senior at Sarasota High School, in charge of recruiting students from his school and leading his table’s discussion, commented on the personal growth he has experienced thanks to the forum.

“Working with the Council has helped me express my opinions and hear other perspectives. This event gave my peers and me the platform to express our opinions,” Will said.

The Superintendent’s Forum is a unique opportunity for students and school officials to work together and brainstorm creative solutions to pertinent, everyday issues in Sarasota County schools. We look forward to facilitating these important conversations for many generations of students to come.

To learn more about the Superintendent’s Student Council and other student leadership opportunities, visit theclubsdc.org or call 941-366-3911.

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