I guess it’s human nature for people to complain, and students are no different. Kids often complain about something at school. They complain about the little things, the big things and everything in-between. Some topics would catch the attention of the teachers and a class discussion could take place. Often that discussion would eventually consider possible next steps. What action can we take?
One day I was sitting in Mr. Michael Bonanno’s psychology classroom and a conversation about advisory came up. Specifically, we were discussing ideas how to make advisory more meaningful. That discussion led to students asking about a lot of school policies like community service, iPads, snow days, religious holidays, school food, scholarships, etc, etc, etc. I asked if these issues could be brought to the attention of a higher power. And Mr. Bonanno said “absolutely.” Mr. Bonanno brought up the fact that RHS has a School Improvement Team (SIT) consisting of students, parents, teachers, and even Dr. Lourenco Garcia (our Principal) and Jonathan Mitchell (our Assistant Principal). He explained that the SIT discusses any issue and listens to any ideas that are brought to the table. At first, I had many questions about this team and if an average student like me could be a part of this team and whether or not an average student like me could make a difference in my school. After all the questions were answered I decided that this was something I needed to do. I wanted to show up and represent my fellow students and their ideas. Mr. Bonanno encouraged me to come to the next monthly meeting, on the third Wednesday of the month from 3pm to 4pm.
Nervously, I decided this wasn’t something to joke around about. I needed to look presentable. I needed to know what to say beforehand and be ready for any questions I might be asked about on my topics. My friend and I were talking about this meeting and he brought up the idea to start a petition that could be shown to the principals who followed the same ideas I was fighting for. In two days I received about 200 signatures from all types of grades represented in the high school. My chance to finally came to show the teachers and principals my real talent, the thoughts we, as students, really have, and show that with some determination and dedication anything is possible no matter who you are. I walked into school with my red dress shirt, black dress pants, my red and black tie, dress shoes and my suit jacket ready to conquer anything in my path.
The time came as I sat in the Revere High School’s East Wing Conference room in front of not only teachers and my principals but also parents and people who work in the city. The meeting began and I was the only student in the room of adult figures. Being the only student was a little intimidating but I got through it. As the meeting started up, many topics were thrown around as we sat there. Conversations started to brew about different topics and not knowing what to say I just sat there and absorbed all the information. Wise thoughts from wise minds were proposed on many topics, sparking up debates and ideas to improve our school. The only thing I knew at this point was to just relax because I wasn’t the only one there with topics to bring to the table. As I continued to wait patiently for my topics to be brought up on the agenda, I was given the floor by Mr. Fellowes (co-chair of the School Improvement Committee along with Mr. Bonanno). I spoke about the idea of changing the advisory to make it more eventful and diverse, by adding advisory workshops where we can be taught basic life skills and other subjects that students are interested in. This was debated around the table for a good period of time. My other agenda items were addressed, debated and were fairly given the attention of my principal, Dr. Garcia.
To be honest, I thought our ideas were going to be heard but not acted on, I was wrong. Two major ideas were implemented right away by the teachers and administration. Another student’s idea about more elective options led to a financial literacy class added to our electives choices, among others. And, to my great satisfaction, the idea to have mini-workshops during advisory was agreed upon and was promised to become reality. Within a few weeks, the teachers loved the idea and the administration made it happen. Slowly but surely a new advisory look is coming to life, tested this past month, and will be expanded next school year. By attending these meetings I felt that I was helping my school in a positive way and students started to notice. More juniors and even sophomores attended the meetings and I saw not only a school growing but a community as well.
Everyone has ideas, hopes, dreams and goals but the difference in whether or not they are accomplished is based on how willing you are to follow through. There are two types of people in this world, the talkers and the doers. The difference between these two types of people is that a talker will talk about what he wants and never act on it, but a doer prepares and acts on the changes he dreams about. In today’s world there is always room for improvement not only in a school but also in communities and in nations. It’s a good start by building a team in school that shows we can make a difference. In my opinion every high school should have a team like this, with opportunities for an average kid like me to change his school for the better. Everywhere you look you can see room for improvement and everyone has great ideas to add. At RHS, we don’t just talk about it, we do it, and that’s how we make a difference.
Antonio Cali is a current Revere High School student.