The Palo Alto High School administration and the Associative Student Body will host a Paly Student Forum at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Media Arts Center for students to voice their opinions regarding school climate issues directly to Superintendent Max McGee and Principal Kim Diorio.
Diorio and ASB began speaking a couple of weeks ago, wanting to hold an event where students are able to talk directly to the administration.
“In that conversation with ASB, they were really appreciative to be able to talk to me and share with me what they see and some of their experiences,” Diorio said. “I think it would be great if more students had the opportunity to do this.”
Gunn’s Student Executive Council, equivalent to ASB at Paly, recently held a student forum with McGee and their principal, Dr. Denise Herrmann.
“Gunn did it and it was really successful,” Diorio said. “They had an open forum. … It was kind of like an open house. Students could pop in or leave or stay… and just talk directly to the principle and superintendent about things that they’ve noticed in their time in this district and things that adults should focusing their efforts on.”
ASB President Claire Liu ageres with Diorio about the importance of being able to speak directly to the administration.
“It’s important overall that students are voicing their concerns and making sure that people who actually have the power to change things are listening to them,” Liu said. “With what’s been going on in our community, it’s an especially crucial time for students to speak up… It’s a time when students’ voices can be most powerful, too.”
Liu adds that in order to make an impact in the Paly and Palo Alto community students must take the initiative by showing up to the event.
“There is nothing but positive outcomes for this event,” Liu said. “I think it’s just a matter of students taking the initiative to come to the MAC on Thursday. … It will be a great way for Mrs. Diorio and Mr. McGee to see students personally and hear their stories – that is the most impactful thing that students can do.”
This is a chance for the administration and faculty to understand the issues that students are facing, according to McGee.
“‘Seek first to understand, then be understood,'” McGee told The Paly Voice, quoting Stephen Covey. “From the position of the administration and faculty, we need to understand the issues that are really important to the students … [and] not just assume what they [the issues] are because we are teachers and parents.”
Diorio also expressed wanting the students to be heard more so than the adults.
“A lot of times what happens is you have adults at the table,” Diorio said. “And although every adult is well-meaning and well-intending, we have to make sure we are including our students in the conversation and that they are really leading this conversation.”
McGee said that moving forward, the community needs to become increasingly more collaborative when dealing with issues such as student stress and other school climate concerns.
“I think the inclusive piece is really important,” said McGee. “Edicts don’t come from the top down. … They’re made in collaboration and shared meaningful dialogue. … We are going to do more listening than speaking.”
Diorio said that this forum is to be a positive experience for students and the community.
“We just want this to be a positive experience,” Diorio said. “We want it to be an opportunity for people to feel like they are being part of the solutions and that if they have an idea or they have something they want to talk about … it would be a good opportunity for people to come forward.”
While ideas and opinions presented at this forum will be considered by the administration, Diorio noted that it will take time for the administration to respond.
“It might not happen overnight,” Diorio said. “It might not be a quick fix, but we are certainly going to take the input that we receive at this forum and bring it back to our community … so that we can all work together in partnership to support kids.”