Student-Written Story: COVID-19 Planning Committees

Student-Written Story: COVID-19 Planning Committees

A photo of MitchellIn this student-written piece, AAMA SLC member Trevon reflects on centering student voice in key district decisions.

About AAMA and SLC : The Office of African American Male Achievement Student Leadership Council is a network of student leaders who support each other at their schools and across the district while also providing guidance to Seattle Public Schools leadership and holding leadership accountable on priority initiatives of AAMA. AAMA managers Kevin Loyal and Adam Haizlip facilitate the SLC meetings. This year, members of the SLC joined district committees and meetings to provide student perspective.

Being a member of the SLC has been filled with so many experiences and emotions — mostly all positive. For example, over the summer our council participated in a lot of meetings. Most of them we were really prepared for, others you just had to be there and pick up on the energy. I literally remember that first meeting I was supposed to speak with a group of adults outside of our SLC. Man, this was back in June leading up to the marathon summer of meetings.

Before that first meeting, I remember thinking, "How many times are we gonna meet on Wednesday? How many times are y'all gonna tell us about this important work we were doing? How many times are you gonna ask us how we feel? Or, how did this information make us feel? Or, my favorites, Turn your screen on, King. Or, speak your truth, King. " And then, boom, in the middle of our summer while most kids were playing Fortnite or 2K, we, the SLC, were in our first three-hour meeting/work session considering how we would re-open schools in the fall.

… we want to be invited to important meetings no matter how long they are, but we also want you take our feedback and actually implement it. Because at the end of the day, nothing can be about us without us! ~Trevon

The interesting thing is that I found myself working with people from the school district — decision makers, people I felt like I never met before. They all felt white, older, and disconnected from the youth experience — even though not all were. I remember thinking, "dang, you can think like this, have this much bias, have master's and doctorate degrees, and be certified to teach kids."

You gotta remember we are 7th through 10th graders. We were on Teams meetings for three hours in June for three to four days a week. Have you seen the summers in Seattle? Nobody wants to be on three-hour long meetings. At the beginning it was exciting to be heard from by these people that were foreign to me, but then the toll of getting up every day at 8 a.m. for a meeting after staying up late the night before with Mr. Haizlip reading and re-reading data started to get old.

Truthfully, even now, when I don't wanna do something I can hear voices of Ajala, my fellow SLC member, Mr. Loyal, and Mr. Haizlip saying, "King, proper preparation prevents poor performances." I also remember them telling us not to fall for the trick. "Kings, y'all have to stay locked in because these meetings are meant to wear you down to the point that when it’s time to make a decision, that's the day you are tired or absent." Funny thing is, they call us King so much I'm actually starting to believe I am a King and move how I believe a King should move!

As we were writing this, we were challenged to remember what was happening in society in May and June. Thinking back, May and June were filled with the unlawful killing of Black Kings and Queens, protest, social unrest, global pandemic, curfews, and the first 12th graders I heard of that didn't go to prom or walk the stage! Yeah, that June 2020! So, the fact that I was able to be present and focus on these meetings is still unbelievable.

So, Mr. Haizlip said I'm supposed to write something that moves people to feelings and actions so here I am gonna quote two of my colleagues August and Ajala. Feel — All of us Kings in the SLC want tofeel connected to our teachers and principals because, as my lil' bro August said, "If I can't feel your love or I know you don't like me, then I can't and I won't learn from you." Now, as far asaction goes, my big bro Ajala said it simply, "Support us or stay outta the way!"

In closing, we want to be invited to important meetings no matter how long they are, but we also want you take our feedback and actually implement it. Because at the end of the day, nothing can be about us without us!



Read more about the AAMA and Student Leadership Council.