Ari Davis, a West High School senior, would like to help students transition from middle to high school.
Tre Seals, a Middleton High School senior, wants support and understanding from teachers toward students and vice versa.
Ary Saravia-Coira, a Verona High School senior, wants to give more help to students who are taking Advanced Placement classes.
Orian Small, an East High School junior, would like students to get more support so they can feel confident, important and smart and strive for their dreams.
These are some of the ideas that came out of the national Minority Student Achievement Network Student Conference hosted by the Verona School District last week at the Madison Concourse Hotel. About 200 students from 20 school districts and 10 states attended the conference, which is held annually at locations around the country.
Toward the end of the Oct. 7-10 event, the students came up with an action plan to take back to their schools. They also took part in a “gallery walk” where they had a chance to talk with students at other schools about their plans, which were posted on walls.
“We give them a platform for expressing the inequities they feel are present in our system and expressing what is and isn’t working for them,” said Laurie Burgos, who helped coordinate the conference and is director of bilingual programs and instructional equity for the Verona district.
This year’s conference theme is Exploring Deeper Roots, which was suggested by Damitu Hamda, 16, a Verona junior, who also worked on the keynote speaker portion of the conference. Her Verona classmate Saravia-Coira designed the logo.
The conferences always include some time on a college campus to help students see that as an option for them. The event also included entertainment.
“It’s better than I thought it would be,” Tyree Eady, 16, a junior at Middleton High School, said about his first conference. “It really gives us a chance to interact and network for the future.”
The Minority Student Achievement Network is a national coalition of multiracial, suburban-urban school districts coming together to understand and eliminate achievement and opportunity gaps. The organization is based at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research in the UW-Madison School of Education.