School Safety, Tutoring, and...the Lunch Menu? SCSD High School Students Make Their "Voices" Heard

Mar 26, 2018

Two students chat with SCSD Superintendent Jaime Alicea after the student voices symposium.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse City high school students Monday were invited to share thoughts about their schools, and some suggestions as part of the third annual student voices symposium.  Concerns ranged from school safety…to what’s served for lunch.

If you ask 11th grader Jean-Baptiste Rakotoarison, and 10th grader Ridwan Sirad, they’ll tell you that PSLA at Fowler is a safe school.  Their concerns seem to revolve around resources for students.  The school has the poorest high school population in the city, and Rakotoarison says most students are left out of some activities.

I know many kids’ parents cannot give their kids money for some stuff.  If the school provided more, maybe that will get more students involved and enjoy school as it is.”

Ridwan Sirad says many students benefit from extra help with their studies.

“More funds for after-school activities, like LPP that helps students with their homework.  They really do a lot, and I don’t think they get enough appreciation.”

An ITC student listens during the symposium.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

The Liberty Partnership Program is funded by the state, and is a collaboration between the district and Syracuse University to help students work toward personal and academic goals through counseling and tutoring. 

Both students also happen to be soccer players, but haven’t ever been able to play at their home turf.

They’ve been promising to do that for years, but we never got our soccer field.  We need to get a new one.  Our field is not even at Fowler; it’s at Burnet Park.  I say we deserve our own field because we do really well in soccer.  A little more recognition with the turf would be great.”

Fowler hasn’t had athletic fields since they were torn up for a sewer project in 2010, when Rakototarison and Sirad were just starting elemntary school.  Fields, a stadium, and new locker rooms are included in the next phase of the joint schools construction project, but officials aren’t committing to a start-date.  Superintendent Jaime Alicea appreciated the student’s honesty from safety and education…to sports and... lunch?

Every year when we ask the kids, anything you want to change?  They all talk about lunch,” Alicea said.

The school lunches…they just need to get better,” Sirad complained. 

We’re providing more fruit and vegetables.  They like the turkey, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs.  One of the kids said to me, ‘you need to bring back the popcorn chicken.  Those are the things we like,'” Alicea said.

Alicea says he and administrators will consider all suggestions made at the symposum..including the lunch menu. 

Group photo! Students and facilitators gather for a final photo before departing.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News