Student voices help reform Irvine’s Strategic Plan


Aya Takase-Songui

A BETTER FUTURE: Sophomores Jasmine Le and Ashley Cao discuss issues regarding mental health and teen culture in their focus group.

Shreya Aithal, Staff Writer

Impassioned voices discussing teen health and education filled the glossy wooden walls of the Irvine Heritage Park Community Center as high school students across the district gathered to discuss possible reforms.

Various community and Irvine city figures led the collective discussion to foster honest feedback and insightful ideas in the Irvine Strategic Plan’s high school focus group on March 22 to help the City identify where to allocate funding for future youth programs, needs and events.

The focus group was promoted by High School Youth Action Team representatives to include student voices from each IUSD school.

“Our main focus was discussing student opinions on different topics before Irvine spends millions of dollars,” attendee sophomore Karen Young said. “Each presenter asked us for our thoughts on how to make resources accessible to teens.”

The focus group began with an overview presentation of the Strategic Plan, that explained its creation and goals to boost the quality of life of children and families in Irvine.

Over 100 students split into five breakout groups that discussed overcoming daunting challenges in education such as prioritizing mental health and wellness, developing college application support, increasing student involvement in government, creating youth leadership opportunities and bridging accessibility gaps in extracurricular activities.

“We covered many topics such as substance use, racism and more,” Northwood YAT class representative sophomore Hannah Cho said. “The breakout sessions really allowed us to focus in depth on one topic instead of going really broad, and there were so many great policy ideas from everyone.”

The City will use the feedback from this event to increase accessibility to community resources as they work to reform the Strategic Plan and create more opportunities for youth in Irvine.

“We concluded that understanding mental health and hearing more about people who have struggled with mental health would be more informational and helpful,” Northwood YAT class representative freshman Aashna Tatireddy said.

Irvine city officials will be accompanying this forum with a city-wide survey available to all Irvine residents, particularly high school students, to voice their opinions and ideas for the Strategic Plan.

“High school representation is really important since we are the future,” YAT staff junior Kristie To said. “It’s necessary to increase diversity and foster local advocacy in our students.”

If you missed the opportunity to participate but are still interested in providing input regarding these topics, be sure to fill out the City of Irvine’s seven minute survey by visiting this link: