Amplifying student voice has been a shared priority among South Orangetown schools for some time. Throughout this school year, District communications are highlighting the various avenues through which our students are taking on leadership roles to enhance programming, operations and school culture.
At Cottage Lane Elementary School, student voice is amplified through a number of initiatives, including assembly planning, Trash Troopers and the building’s Student Advisory Council, which is composed of delegates selected by each homeroom to address student issues.
Assistant Principal Rob Schliessman begins each meeting with feedback classes have submitted regarding what is going well and what needs improvement. At the October 28 meeting, recess and eating outdoors topped the list of highlights while students requested additional recess equipment, increased stock in the school store and improved bathroom cleanliness. Schliessman promised to address concerns and report back.
For the remainder of the meeting, delegates work in topic-specific committees. The Recess committee discussed accessibility and suggested modifications for the building’s zipline. The School Events committee planned for upcoming events, while the Mindfulness committee discussed ways to promote strategies and techniques to support student wellbeing. Members of the School Highlights committee were dispatched to interview main office secretary Bailey Nuñez and school social worker Jessica Inglis.
The Garden Reconstruction Committee moved outdoors to inspect CLE’s outdoor garden space and visualize improvements with Director of Facilities Jack Rallo. Students voiced interest in cleaning out the beds, adding sensory elements and installing paths to make it easier to walk and work in the garden.
“When we can create opportunities for students to have a voice and choice in their learning, we give them a role in shaping and creating the school environment,” explains Schliessman. “This helps them to become more independent learners and more invested in their school.”