Heights High alum asks district to 'stop counting us out'
On Dec. 10, 2021, I was back at Cleveland Heights High School, my alma mater. I was hosting, running, and speaking at a protest, which I and several other students and alumni coordinated in response to an Instagram post by a girl who’d recently been a victim of sexual assault.
Exactly four months since then, two days before my 20th birthday, here I am writing this. Since that first protest, we’ve continued keeping in touch through a handful of group chats, and the most avid and available of us attending weekly zoom meetings to discuss strategy and develop demands.
What stands out to me most recently is how impressed and surprised adults are at our undertakings. The ones we’ve worked with of course see our behind-the-scenes efforts, but even just in showing up to board meetings, giving public comment, or passing out flyers, I’ve gotten told how articulate and well-informed I am. Of course I appreciate acknowledgment, but it’s . . . bittersweet. Why is it such a rarity for me to be educated on topics that literally affect my and my peers' well-being?
There are some innocuous reasons of course. For one, the more you mature in high school, the closer you are to leaving. By the time many start to become truly capable individuals, commencement is on the horizon. Others might be too focused on making it to that diploma point to have the time or energy to spare on anything that won’t go on a transcript or boost a GPA. Then of course, many go off to colleges and universities elsewhere, leaving the community, at least for a large part of the year.
However, for every class shipped up and out, another one arrives! And while many leave, some stay, at least seasonally. So, as much as I’m a person who loves a compliment, I wish being autonomous, involved, and informed wasn’t so exceptional. And part of that means that the district needs to do a better job of empowering us IN REAL TIME, not as an agenda afterthought or a noncommittal notation. We aren’t asking for a superhero, or a three-in-one judge/jury/executioner. We aren't asking for anything some other district or campus hasn’t already done and implemented. What we are asking for is things that could’ve and should’ve already been done.