June 5, 2023

Whole Community News

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Students ask 4J candidates how they will promote transparency, mental health, equity

5 min read
Kailynn, Jun, Azure, and Hana ask questions on behalf of the 4J student community at the CALC student-led candidate forum. The parent-led forum is Thursday, May 11.

Students have questions for the school board candidates. From the Community Alliance of Lane County, Indigo Amarys.

[00:00:06] Indigo Amarys (CALC Educational Equity Program organizer): My name is Indigo Amarys.  I want to thank our students for hosting and representing the questions that were asked by a lot of other 4J students. With that in mind, I’m going to hand it over to the first of our four 4J high-schoolers, Kailynn from Sheldon.

[00:00:21] Kailynn (Sheldon): Thank you, Indigo. Si usted quiere escuchar en español, haz ‘Click’ en el botón que dice ‘Interpretación en español.’

[00:00:23] Closed captioning is also available and can be found by clicking ‘Show subtitle.’ The recording of this webinar will be made accessible via the CALC website. Now I’ll pass it on to Jun from Churchill.

[00:00:41] Jun (Churchill): Thank you, Kailynn. Thank you to the many 4J students who submitted questions to be brought to the candidates today. A big thank you to the five candidates who are in attendance today. All candidates were contacted, but these are the folks who showed up to talk to the community.

[00:00:57] For Position 1, we have Tom De Liberto. For Position 4, Gordon Lafer. For Position 5, Jenny Jonak and Grant Johnson. Finally, Position 7, Morgan Munro. In a moment, we will begin the forum with each candidate giving a brief two-minute opening statement. Then we will get right into the questions submitted by 4J students.

[00:01:20] John Q: With the full candidate forum available at CalcLane.org, here are just the student questions:

[00:01:25] Jun (Churchill): And now I’ll pass it on to Azure.

[00:01:27] Azure (North Eugene): Hello, I’m Azure from North and thank you Jun. And it’s time for our first question. We are seeing issues with transparency and board members making decisions without listening to our student body or staff. More specifically, students and staff have felt like the district has rushed through the new high school schedule without much transparency.

[00:01:50] The first question is, how do you plan to prevent the district from making hasty decisions where students and staff feel unheard? And the second part of this question is: How do you plan to help ease students’ minds with this new transition?

[00:02:05] I’m going to pass it to Hana from South Eugene for the next question.

[00:02:11] Hana (South Eugene): Thank you, Azure. The second question is: Whether it’s stress, anxiety, or feeling overwhelmed, many high schoolers, including myself, have struggled with mental health. Being at school doesn’t help solve these problems, and in some cases, it makes them worse. It is rarely a place that inspires learning, where people feel safe. It is rarely a place people look forward to going to. What will you do to make schools a better, supportive, more welcoming place where people want to go?

[00:02:40] Your next question is from Kailynn, from Sheldon.

[00:02:44] Kailynn (Sheldon): Thank you, Hana. All students deserve to feel safe and have a positive environment surrounding them, but that doesn’t always happen. It is especially hard for trans students and students of color.

[00:02:55] Clubs created in search of community are not met with funds, students of color are not advocated for, and when reports of racism are made, there is insufficient attention from admin or unsatisfactory punishment.

[00:03:07] In addition, many trans students feel more comfortable using gender-neutral bathrooms that are equal to their peers. However, currently most schools only have one and/or the bathroom is shared with staff. These bathrooms are often vandalized and generally inaccessible.

[00:03:23] What is your plan to ensure that equity efforts within schools specifically include, advocate, and create community and support for students of color and trans students?

[00:03:33] Thank you candidates. I believe Indigo would like to speak.

[00:03:36] Indigo Amarys: I just wanted the audience to know that the Q&A feature is on and for our candidates… Azure take it away.

[00:03:43] Azure (North Eugene): Hello. Our first question is: I’m in sixth grade and would like to be able to take a Courageous Conversations class and for my teachers to take it too. What can the district do to make these opportunities more available?

[00:03:57] Thank you so much. We’re going to move on from the Q&A to the next segment. So: Hana.

[00:04:03]Hana (South Eugene): Thank you, Azure. And thank you for everyone for answering all these questions so far. We’re now going to move on to our closing thoughts. Each candidate will have one minute to share their closing thoughts.

[00:04:16] In your response, please state one word that represents your purpose for running for school board. You may use the remainder of your time to explain your choice of that word. For example, our word to describe our purpose for this forum is ‘voice,’ to ensure student voices are heard.

[00:04:33] We actually have time for one last question, so I’m going to hand it over to Jun to ask that question.

[00:04:40] Jun (Churchill): All right. You’re only going to have one minute, but what is your view on supporting teacher creativity and innovative curriculum development as a way to promote equity and student wellbeing?

[00:04:50] I would like to pass it to Indigo.

[00:04:52] Indigo Amarys (CALC): I just want to take a moment to appreciate the students who planned and ran this event. We had a last-minute candidate drop and a last-minute candidate addition, and I think this was handled beautifully. I’m just like proud of these people. I appreciate all the candidates that are here and answered these questions. I just needed a quick moment of appreciation and I think Jun has the last of our information for today.

[00:05:17] Jun (Churchill): I just wanted to quickly remind everybody that all the questions were formulated by our community and the students here, they were not our personal questions. And I would also like to remind you that we have a parent-led candidate forum on Thursday, May 11, so that’s exciting.

[00:05:34] Thank you to everyone who has attended and made this forum possible. And a special shout out to Indigo and our Spanish interpreter, Kenia (Martinez, Any Time Translations). And finally, please remember to vote by May 16.

[00:05:45] John Q: Students ask for a voice on big decisions, and ask how candidates will promote mental health, equity, Courageous Conversations, and innovative teachers. The next CALC-sponsored forum is Thursday, May 11.

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