‘With purpose and confidence’: Bitney Prep students create new Leadership Club
Student empowerment has always been a priority at Bitney Prep High School. The Bitney staff has constantly sought to find the best ways to amplify and empower the voice of their students. To this end, Bitney Prep’s Activities Director, Tori Harris, worked this summer to create Bitney Prep’s first Leadership Club and, with the help of the newly elected student council, students are having a greater say in the direction of their community and their education.
“At a basic level, Leadership is in charge of planning events like fundraisers, dances, and anything else that the students want because this is a student-run group for students,” says Harris. “More importantly, though, students now have a formal platform to address community issues, like school rules and so forth.”
During Leadership, Bitney Prep’s recently elected student council co-presidents, Fiona Baker and Bee Chavez, set the Club’s agendas and lead the meetings. Every single Bitney Prep student is welcome to attend, provide input, and lobby the school’s administration to make substantive changes to better reflect the educational experience the students desire and deserve.
Bitney Sophomore and Student Council co-President Fiona Baker says, “Leadership is a place where students can express themselves and their opinions in a place where we will listen and try to make their ideas happen. Every idea is taken into consideration and thought out thoroughly, which is much different than any leadership group I’ve ever participated in.”
Fiona’s co-President and Bitney Junior Bee Chavez agrees. “We’re really empowered by this and we are taking our empowerment seriously. Not every school trusts its students like Bitney does, and we want to continue to earn that trust and respect.”
Harris and the rest of the Bitney Prep staff have been impressed with what they’ve seen so far. “Teens have had to deal with a lot of top-down power dynamics growing up, especially lately. If we want them to be civically engaged and become future leaders in our community, we need to start giving them agency and leadership experiences while they still have the relative safety of a supportive community like Bitney Prep.”
She continues, “We want students to participate in Leadership not because it looks good on their college application, but because they want to positively affect their community. Leadership at Bitney Prep is designed to do just that.”
And if you ask any of the students who come to the Bitney Prep Leadership Club meetings, they would echo this sentiment. “Leadership is just another part of our Big Picture Learning model,” continues Harris. “We want our students to have hands-on experiences with all of their learning. From spending a full day every week at an internship site of their choosing and working alongside a professional mentor in the community to understanding how to organize and make change through things like Leadership, Bitney Prep students graduate with purpose and confidence.”
As Bee Chavez says when asked if she agrees with Harris’ assessment, “Heck yeah!”
Source: Bitney Prep
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