Student Voices program returns: Photo of the Day 10/25/19


Jeremy Brown

Group picture of the Student Voices members.

by William Quansah, Editor

On October 24, the Students Voices program was held in the Learning Commons for the second consecutive year. Over 30 students were selected as student ambassadors to represent the student body. There was a combination of students who participated in last year’s first ever session as well as new participants nominated by teachers.

Led by Linganore staff with the help of Social Studies Curriculum Specialist Colleen Bernard and FCPS Supervisor of Accelerating Achievement and Equity Eric Phillips, the purpose of Student Voices is to create unity within each school in Frederick County and eventually unite the county as a whole.

All students were randomized into small groups of about 4-6 people, each which included a staff member. In these groups, students and staff were able to get to know each other through icebreakers and then later worked together to identify ways to make Linganore a more welcoming place ahead of the effects of the FCPS redistricing, which will bring about 200 students to Linganore next school year.

To do this, students broke the problem down into answering smaller questions such as “How do we help someone who is being bullied?” and “How do others view us [Linganore] versus what we actually are?”

The highlight of the day was the “Crossing the Line” activity. Staff and students all formed a circle and responded to statements read by school counselor Christopher O’Brien by either stepping into the circle if it applied to them, or just staying in their position if it did not. The activity began with lighter statements such as “I am a person of color” and then became heavier over time with statements regarding suicide, sexual assault, drug use, etc.

Phillips stressed the importance of seeing each others’ differences as well as remembering everyone is together. “When everyone stepped in, they all retreated back to the outside. This shows that while we’re going through different things in life we still come back together meaning we are still one group, one Linganore.”

Senior Kojo Benefo believed the circle activity was a extremely important part of the day. “At first it felt awkward to step in when a statement applied to you, but it was also comforting to see that there are other people who are just like me and we all support each other despite our differences.”

The Student Voices programs consists of more than just the session in the Learning Commons. Later in the school year, Linganore’s student ambassadors will meet with other FCPS schools in a neutral location where they will repeat a similar process. During this session students of different schools will pair up and plan to shadow or be shadowed by each other during a school day. This day allows for students to build relationships and gain real perspectives of other schools. At the end of the school there will be a celebration event for all that has been achieved through the program.

Bernard said, “In its second year, Student Voices has exceeded our expectations. Eric and I were given the task to create this program after FCPS Superintendent Dr. Theresa Alban met with Middletown seniors who said they wanted to know what it was like to go to other schools. After last year’s shadow event parents still tell me ‘my child is still friends with so and so.’ It really is amazing what this has become. It gives me hope for the future.”