Students Present Policy Changes to State Representatives

On Thursday, October 14, 2021, students from Perkiomen Valley High School, Middle School East, and Spring-Ford High School presented some policy changes to Representatives Ciresi, Pennycuick, Webster, and Senator Muth, along with the board of school directors and PV staff members.

Dr. Russell attended a similar event with Representative Ciresi over the summer. The district planned to engage student voices more around the school, so they initiated an event for students to present their ideas for policy changes. Dr. Russell believes that when given a voice students develop agency, gain an ability to advocate for themselves, and increase self-esteem.

“It’s empowering to see that today’s youth are in a position to actually effect change and actually change the world,” said Mr. Ben Ratkiewicz, the outreach coordinator for Senator Joe Webster.

At the meeting, students presented policy changes on issues they chose. Then a Q&A session continued after the presentations, where Representatives, other groups, and School Board members could ask questions. Sophomore, Matilda Fisher, presented on offsetting the costs of college tuition by relocating funds from the horse racing industries. This would allow for more scholarships to be created for students.

“As a high school student, I feel like college is kinda looming on the horizon, even though it’s just a big undertaking to take over the cost of college and have to worry about that,” said Matilda Fisher, sophomore and part of the Speech & Debate team. “ It’s a big factor for a lot of high school students to think about when choosing a college.”

Presenters discussed many issues during the presentation, like AP testing fees, diversifying educators across PA, and gender sexuality alliance. Educators hope to gain a different perspective on issues by hearing student voices. The policy meeting from Thursday is an example of this.

“As an adult, I think it’s extremely important to have decision-makers in a room, in a forum that is safe for students to express not only their concerns but their awareness of different issues,” said Mrs. Laura White, school board member, and PV parent. “And I think when you are able to present first hand the things that are important to you, I think that it goes a lot further than having another adult say the same message.”

Perkiomen Valley hopes to continue having student voices at larger forums where administrators and teachers can hear student concerns. The district hopes to make this policy meeting with state representatives an annual meeting.