Students speak out at Virtual Advocacy Trip

Rachel Yokota, Staff Writer

Six Northwood students spoke directly with state lawmakers during the annual Sacramento Advocacy Trip virtually on March 8-9.

Anjana Narasimhan

Students addressed issues surrounding public education and provided student feedback on the current educational system. Participants included juniors Kaitlyn Cui, Anjana Narasimhan and Aditi Sreenivas, and seniors Rohan Agrawal, Kamryn Scott and Colman Sun.

“Through this program, students can delve into the deeply interesting subject matter of educational policy, which not only impacts people who want a future in such areas, but any student,” Sreenivas said.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the program was held virtually over Zoom instead of in Sacramento. It consisted of two six-hour meetings in which Northwood students were joined by other student representatives from the six IUSD high schools in communicating student concerns.

“Our largest platform was regarding mental health services for students. We emphasized that if California can introduce social-emotional learning in schools from a young age, the overall well-being of students would ultimately be bettered,” Scott said.

Students also called for additional funding for visual and performing arts programs and maintained the importance of creating a safe environment for deaf students during the pandemic.

Among the state lawmakers in attendance were politicians such as Sen. Dave Min and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of diversity in the backgrounds of the lawmakers, as it was interesting to see how such backgrounds shape our political opinions,” Sreenivas said.

After each presentation, the lawmakers would respond to students’ concerns and expand upon any existing plans to address these issues. Students found that many responses related back to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.

Applications for the program were submitted to Northwood Principal Leslie Roach during early January. Those selected to become Northwood student representatives attended six meetings with IUSD policy makers in order to prepare their thoughts and research topics.

Through this research and the program itself, students were exposed to state and local government affairs.

“The program has taught me so much about education in California,” Sreenivas said. “I loved being able to speak to the people that determine the state of our educational system and being able to see how they were addressing issues that we were passionate about, as well as learning about other issues that need improvement in our district through the voices of my peers.”