By SECC Correspondent Mitchel Benson
Sacramento High School Students Share Their Hopes, Concerns
Time is not on Ezra Perez’s side.
Time – or really, the lack of it – is what Perez says stressed her out the most about high school.
“I have a busy schedule. I’m a working high schooler. I’m kind of the provider of the family,” she says in a new video, “Lifting Our Voices.” Oh, and she was taking a college class, too. Says Perez: “It’s a lot to put on.”
The recent graduate of C.K. McClatchy High School is one of several Sacramento City Unified School District high school students who express their stress in the video, which was produced by the District and the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium. The students also discuss how teachers, staff and classmates often assist them in coping with the challenges of high school.
District officials say the video helps “to honor student voices as they share their current realities, what helps them to be their best, and how they aspire to contribute to the world.”
Indeed, “Lifting Our Voices” shines a light on a particularly important Sacramento City Unified initiative that is aimed at fulfilling its commitment to all its students and families – Social-Emotional Learning, or SEL.
Social-Emotional Learning refers to teaching and role modeling that helps children and adults develop six important life skills: self-management; self-awareness; responsible decision-making; relationship skills; social awareness; and growth mindset.
With these skills, students will learn to manage their own emotions and behavior, leading to better relationships with others and creating a happier learning environment for teachers, staff and students. According to the District, research shows that these six skills are essential to success in school and life. Students who attend schools where SEL is a priority perform better academically and enjoy more positive school experiences.
The District launched the SEL initiative in the 2012-13 school year at C.K. McClatchy High School, California Middle School, Leataata Floyd Elementary School and Sutterville Elementary School. The effort has been supported by a six-year implementation grant from the NoVo Foundation. The District has since expanded SEL to 60 percent of its schools and integrated it into other culture/climate priorities.
Today, District officials say the video is an effective way for students to share their perspectives on what it means to have positive relationships with caring adults and to more broadly share their hopes and realities – all in line with SEL’s principles.
“Students value positive relationships with adults, and opportunities to share their stories,” the District says in the video. “Students’ sense of happiness and belonging are closely connected to the belief that at least one adult at school cares for them, and that they are heard.”
Consider Zachary Neff, a senior at C.K. McClatchy High, who said his top worry at school is “just not being able to succeed. You know it’s a lot of stress being a student, a lot of teenage angst going on and with that a lot of pressure to do what you have to do to move on to college and to move on to your future.”
So, for Neff, “In order to be successful and overcome our challenges, we need adults to lean in and stay curious.”
Another recent McClatchy graduate, Abigail Paiva, says she needed to “spend a lot more time on things like math or memorization than other students.” But, she is quick to add, “When a teacher listens to me, I feel respected, I feel motivated, happier than I would if they didn’t listen to me.”
At Luther Burbank High School, Joselyn Sandoval says her biggest stress about school has been “all the work load that’s put onto us at once.” But Sandoval, who recently graduated, said she was helped by a “support system that consisted of my teachers and my counselors and a lot of my peers. … They reminded me constantly that I could do it and that I was capable and that I am smart.”
One day, Sandoval hopes to become a doctor, “and I aspire to give back to my community and to inspire other students to go after their own dreams and goals.”
For more on Social-Emotional Learning in the SCUSD, visit: scusd.edu/social-emotional-learning-sel
SCUSD: Lifting Our Voices can also be viewed on Comcast 15 at the following times:
- Monday, August 21 – 10:30 am
- Wednesday, August 23 – 4:30 pm
- Friday, August 25 – 7:00 pm
- Saturday, August 26 – 4:00 pm