While reflecting on my first year of being a part of the LNSU Equity Design Team, I feel very proud of the accomplishments the team has completed. After sending out a survey about our own school climate and culture to Lamoille Union Middle and High School for the second year in a row, we showed tremendous growth with the number of responses we got. Along with the Climate Survey, our team was also able to conduct a “Ghost Walk,” in which a group of students toured all of the classrooms in the school after hours and collected data on their inclusivity and flexibility, and if the rooms helped with students’ physical learning. The data collected from the “Ghost Walk” was developed from criteria made by students on our team. 

The LNSU Equity Design team was formed in the 2021/2022 school year and has gained more people each year. This year we were excited to introduce middle school students onto the team, who have helped us tie the middle school into our work more than in past years. The group meets every other month, with our main focus being to create a more inclusive and diverse district, along with teaching equity and improving learning opportunities for all students. We base the data we collect off of the UP for Learning Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) Trailmap. This map helps orient the stages of research that the group is at and guides the direction that our group goes in. 

The LNSU Equity Design team is currently in the process of sharing all of the data we collected from February’s Climate Survey, while also analyzing it as a group during our meetings. We created a slideshow and presented it to school administrators and the school board, along with finding ways to show data to the student body and to the faculty. From our data we found that 76% of students believe that our district should prioritize equity work, which is great news for us because it shows that the student body also wants to progress and support the work that our group has been doing. There has been a huge area of improvement in the survey data.  Students were surveyed in the 2022-2023 school year about whether or not they “have a trusted adult at school.” The results of that data point indicate a 22% positive response growth rate in the 2023-2024 school year. This shows a 22% growth rate in the number of students believing that our school community is welcoming and feeling safer, and that the work that the LNSU Equity Design team is doing is helping students while at school. That data point also speaks to the amazing work that the LNSU staff are doing to connect with youth in meaningful ways. Although the data from our survey has shown lots of strengths, there are also some concerns that the group has recognized. 

The data areas of concern the team has identified are how many adults meet the needs of all learners, and whether or not students enjoy being at school, among others. These numbers are less than half and show that Lamoille Union Middle and High School has lots of room for growth when it comes to recognizing and helping students’ needs. As we transition from this school year, the LNSU Equity Design team will continue to take this data into consideration as we plan for next steps, and we are excited to continue our work for the school community next year. 

Drew Thoeni is a freshman at Lamoille Union High School, and this is her first year being a part of the LNSU Equity Design Team. She is very passionate about social justice, and while in middle school she and a few of her friends, along with Maria Davies, created the Social Justice Committee (SJC) to help with inclusivity at Lamoille Union Middle School. Drew also loves writing articles, and in 2020 she published an article for the News and Citizen. When she isn’t writing, you can see her in many local theater productions or hanging out with her sister.