Bus Tour Stops at East to Show Student Voice

Regional Bus Tour Stops at East to Show Student Voice in Action
Posted on 01/30/2019
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students involved in student voice bus tourLakota East High School was one of just four stops on a bus tour designed to showcase innovative learning spaces around the Greater Cincinnati region. Hosted by the Hamilton County Educational Service Center (HCESC), the tour gave 55 local educators and students an inside look at each school’s journey to redesigning their spaces and leading change.

“There are amazing things happening all over the Cincinnati area and people aren’t always aware because they are so busy in their corner of the world doing great things for kids,” said Meghan Lawson, coordinator of instructional services for HCESC. “We wanted to bring everyone together for a world-class experience where they could travel the 275 loop to see what kinds of great things are happening for our kids.”

While East was celebrated for successes like the transformation of one of its locker bays into a flexible learning space and its media center recently turned “Innovation Hub” to coincide with the rollout of 1:1 devices for students, Principal Suzanna Davis insisted that the emphasis at East be on how student voice made all of it possible and all the more impactful.

“No one can tell our story better than our students. Their voices are the driving force behind so many of the positive things happening around East every day,” said Davis, who looked on as her students facilitated everything from the welcome aboard the bus to the send-off after the student panel.

Leading the charge were students Landon Meador, Hannah Fuller, Grace Phair, Beakal Amsalu, Max Chandler, Caleb Hoch and Kelly Johantges. Each one hosted a different group, highlighting on their tour the spaces that most personally represented student voice to them. Spaces included the theater, main office, Spark news magazine lab, Innovation Hub and select classrooms.

“Mrs. Davis has always been that person who has pushed us to be at the table and to talk and use our voice. I don’t think we would have had this ‘culture shift’ without her,” said junior Johantges, who chose to take her group to the main office. She has appreciated the administration always having an open door into the space where so many of the day-to-day decisions are made.

“In Spark, you pick a topic that you care about and you spend a month researching and writing about it. That’s the best way to amplify student voice,” said senior Meador, who made the Spark lab a major stop on his tour. “Student voice has been around for us for 30 years and now we’re taking what’s been done in the paper and putting it to work in the entire school.”

Students concluded their stop with a student-led panel in the Innovation Hub.

“The students were so incredibly invested and articulate and you can tell that they live, eat, breathe the work that they’re talking about; it’s real work,” Lawson said. “To see them lead the way and even plan this visit for us was really inspiring.”

Pictured: During a regional bus tour hosted by the Hamilton County Educational Service Center, Lakota East students (left to right) Landon Meador, Hannah Fuller, Grace Phair, Beakal Amsalu, Max Chandler, Caleb Hoch and Kelly Johantges planned the entire visit, articulating how student voice has transformed the physical and cultural shifts at Lakota East High School.