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Students trying to improve culture at Rochester school



Rochester, New York — The students at Northeast College Prep are working to improve school culture – one project at a time.

It’s part of a new program that allows them to make decisions as stakeholders, with the hopes of giving them a sense of empowerment. “They have more buy-in in being students because they feel like they are part of a change,” explained Nakia Burrows, the school’s principal.

Their efforts are all part of the Student Voice Committee and the Mivka Challenge. “That curriculum is helping to refine what they already know, but fine-tune their skills so that they can be more effective and productive,” said Burrows. “Basically, with their ideas inside the school, it makes it seem like ‘Oh, yeah – I’ve got something to go to school and look forward to,'” said Elexis McGee, a senior at Northeast.

Those ideas are all brought to life with student-facilitated action. “The most rewarding part – just feeling like I did something to better the community,” said McGee. “And to show other schools [that] little schools that get looked over in Rochester can shine also.”

The production of a mini-documentary was also part of the Mivka Challenge, which highlights some of the healthy spaces students have created. “When adults are making decisions for you, you feel like you don’t have any say,” said Isaiah Mahoney, a junior at Northeast. “Student Voice makes it to where your voice is heard, no matter who you are.”

There were only 15 participants when the Student Voice curriculum launched last year at Northeast. This year, around 100 students took part.