Giving Students a Voice

How Principal’s Council allows all students to impact their school


Principal Sonny Arnel speaks with a student about a concern on Friday, Sept. 13 outside his office. Dr. Arnel’s Principal’s Council is a group of students from all grades he uses to learn about the concerns and opinions of the student body.

Rachel Vrazel, Social Media Editor

It’s a Tuesday in August, and a handful of students are slowly making their way into conference room C at the beginning of 4th hour. They walk in, laughing and joking with each other while grabbing water and some snacks from a nearby table before sitting down. After a few minutes, Dr. Sonny Arnel walks in. The room gradually slows to a hush and conversation starts. 14 Students. One principal. One class period. Infinite possibilities.

Consisting of 14 students in all four grades, Principal’s Council meets monthly with Dr. Arnel to provide a student’s perspective on important school issues and shed a light on topics the student body is passionate about. As representatives of the student body, members of the council are always on the lookout for important topics to bring to the meetings. From pep assembly issues, bell schedules and bus complications, to more serious topics such as equity in race, sexuality and gender, Dr. Arnel utilizes the Principal’s Council to help start discussions and use that to implement real change in our school and broaden perspectives. This requires a lot of time, focus, commitment and, most importantly, honesty.

“I have a very focused lens,” Dr. Arnel said, speaking of his perspective of student issues in the school. “I need students that are willing to bring their perspective and share their lens… It’s not about making Dr. Arnel feel good about how great the school is, it’s about what really are the pressing issues in the school so we can really get into it… [because] we want to be an effective school for all our kids.”

This foundation of honesty in discussing topics of real importance has allowed many students both on and off the council to see their wants addressed and their needs met. The quarterly Town Hall meetings are a great example of what students on Principal’s Council help achieve. After reflecting on the data of a recent student survey, they realized how many students felt there was no easy way to voice their concerns and opinions in the school. 

While this idea has greatly impacted the school and allowed for more students to be heard, it’s far from the only way council members help their peers have a say in their school. Anyone, at any time, can approach a member of the council with a comment, question or concern and rest assured that whatever was weighing on them will be brought to Dr. Arnel’s attention at the next meeting, if not sooner. 

“Many students may not feel like they can approach me,” Dr. Arnel said. “They may feel comfortable talking to a student who is going to represent them… It’s just another avenue for kids to be able to get their issues to me.”

Because student representation is the key focus of the group, the council includes a diverse array of students. Students from all different backgrounds involved in a wide variety of school activities allows for student minorities to be represented. This includes diversity in student activities and involvement. Senior Sydney Aleksick, president of the Principal’s Council, notices how this allows for concerns and insight from students interested and involved in many different things.

“There’s people from tech, there’s band, there’s the arts and… the sports aspect and there’s student voice everywhere,” Aleksick said.

Being a member of the council is no easy task, especially for students who are involved in multiple extracurriculars already. It requires a lot of organization to ensure that they remember meeting dates, fundraiser sale dates and all of the students’ topics they need to address. Junior Sophie Delaney, Vice President of Principal’s Council, has developed her own organizational system to keep her on task in meetings. 

“In my planner and a separate notebook, if a student comes up to me and… says there is a problem… I’ll write it down so that I remember [at the] next meeting to talk about it,” Delaney said.

However, that does not mean it is any less rewarding. For Delaney, the knowledge that she is making a difference makes every moment spent on the council worth it.

“I personally love the fact that I do get to represent my student body in my junior class. And I feel like my favorite part of principal’s council on general is just having the ability to help other students at the school,” Delaney said.

My favorite thing about Principal’s Council… is having the ability to help other students at the school.”

— Sophie Delaney

With the start of the new school year, Principal’s Council is already hard at work making sure that our school is the best it can be. With a total of 7 new members in all 4 grades, their first meeting as a whole council will be September 17th. Just over a month into the school year, there are already pressing topics to discuss. If students feel there is anything that needs to be addressed by the administration or Principal’s Council, they shouldn’t hesitate to find a member of the council to pass on your questions and concerns. Students can also contact a principal through the school website, care and concern boxes, or even by using the QR codes posted around the school to get an appointment to speak with a principal in person. Whatever it is, the principals want students’ voices to be heard and encourage everyone to speak up and give their input. 

“The worst thing you can do, I think, is to have a change in your heart that you want to see take place, but then never do anything about it to make it happen,” Dr. Arnel said. “And one of the best ways to make it happen is to make me aware of it… This is [the student’s] school, and who we are is up to them.”