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Superintendent's Student Advisory Council offers insights, guidance to district leaders

Superintendent Christopher Smith and the Student Advisory CouncilHigh school students from across Cherry Creek Schools who’ve played an important role in offering insights, advice and lived experience to district leaders over the past two years received a tribute during the CCSD Board of Education’s regular meeting on May 9.

The board meeting held Monday at Grandview High School included a formal recognition of the members of the Superintendent Student Advisory Council, a group of CCSD high school students formed in 2020 that has offered feedback to district leaders, including Superintendent Christopher Smith.

Smith kicked off the recognition by thanking the assembled students for their hard work, their honesty and their commitment to improving the everyday operation of the district, as well as its long-term trajectory. The Superintendent Advisory Council provided opportunities for the students to gain valuable real-world experience through its structure and its apprenticeships, and district leaders benefitted from the students’ advice, observations and wisdom gleaned from their lived experience.

“I thank them for their honesty, their specific insights and their advice. It has been invaluable for my leadership team and me,” Smith said. “This has been an opportunity for our students to grow as leaders and to become apprentices for the district,” he added, before paying specific tribute to the graduating seniors in the group. “I would like to give them a special thanks. Good luck – I know you will make a difference, wherever you’re headed.”

Since its formation in 2020, the council tackled a wide range of topics and issues, including difficult subjects like youth violence, suicide and other crises facing students across CCSD, across Colorado and across the nation.

Grandview High School student and council member Yusef Hanif spoke to the challenges of facing such difficult issues with honesty, compassion and a commitment to change. He spoke of the journey that all of the student council members started in 2020, after the world had shut down in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our journey as an advisory group began in 2020 – when we were all stuck at home and facing a new reality,” Hanif said. “It came to be an opportunity, one that over the past two years, my fellow students and I have valued greatly. Each and every topic was one that my peers and I have given careful thought and consideration to; district leaders and the superintendent were there at all times. (We tackled) difficult and important topics.”

Working with district leadership, the student council worked to craft solutions and approaches that reflected the Cherry Creek School District’s core values: a whole-child approach to well-being; social-emotional and mental health; relationships; equity and engagement; and a growth mindset. What’s more, students involved in the council took pat in summer leadership programs that taught critical skills for success in real-world work environments. The value for the students also came in apprenticeships that offered a similar stress on building experience that could be valuable in future work and academic environments.

“This council provided much-needed experience for all of us,” Hanif said. “We took part in open, honest conversations … Today, the work we all do with the council feels effortless. The current challenges we face will act as a catalyst for better things to come. (I’ve learned) that despite the distance, we do and can come together as a district.”

Those members in attendance at the board meeting on Monday night included: Samantha Montes, Cherry Creek High School; Alejandra Gutierrez, Overland High School; Amani Giles, Eaglecrest High School; Daniel Diaz Reyes, Grandview High School; Imani Dorsey, Smoky Hill High School; Nadia Calderon, Cherry Creek Elevation; J. Lee, Cherry Creek Elevation; Troy Freeman, Eaglecrest High School; Rohan Guddanti, Smoky Hill High School; Yusuf Hanif, Grandview High School; Raya Reiswig, Cherry Creek Elevation; Tyler Tolbert, Cherry Creek High School; Erica Powell, Cherry Creek Elevation; and Jalen Daugherty, Eaglecrest High School.

Congratulations to the members of the Superintendent Advisory Council!

-- Posted 5/11/22 at 10 AM