On February 6th, UP Executive Director Lindsey Halman and Program Director Katie Ingraham facilitated a retreat for three middle schools in Delaware’s Brandywine School District. Communications Director Christie Beveridge sat down with Katie to learn more about the team, and the following are highlights of their conversation. 

What was the origin of the team?

With this team, we are trying to create a model that is similar to the Brandywine School District (BSD) High School Student Advisory. The team is really in their origin year right now. Youth from the three BSD middle schools and the adult Equity Champion for each school gathered with UP and high school youth facilitators to co-design and envision what effective student voice advisories should look like. This year is the design phase – a small group of nine youth are learning leadership and facilitation skills, and they will become the facilitators of Student Voice Advisories at their own schools. We also want to note that this project is generously supported by the Longwood Foundation. 

What were some highlights of your February retreat?

Lots of joy, community building, and fun! The other highlights from the day were student- facilitated circles, with some of them stepping into the role for the very first time as they practice becoming circle keepers. We did powerful design thinking about what the SVA could look like as far as roles and responsibilities of facilitators and members. They worked through logistics around meeting times so that everyone can access the Student Voice Advisory, and did a lot of work envisioning what the advisory wants to accomplish. This document shares the outcomes from the design process thus far.

What are some challenges the team has faced? 

There doesn’t seem to be any obstacles for this team! Everyone is invested, motivated, excited and ready to go. Because it’s a design year, though, they haven’t had time to gather as a team in the time between our retreats. They have now created a structure where they take part in two meetings between retreat days for school-based actions. 

What are the team’s next steps?

Their next step is to connect with school principals to build awareness of the Student Voice Advisory. They are going to meet again soon to brainstorm best practices for recruitment of a diverse team.