Student Voice Summit 2018 Students & faculty from across NH convene to empower student leadership in governance, community, and learning.

On March 23, over 100 students, educators, and administrators convened at Saint Anselm College. The purpose of this gathering was to connect, collaborate, and learn about the potential impact student voices, when embraced and respected by their school and communities, can have on learning, educational outcomes, and school culture.

The Student Voice Summit was organized by NH Listens, the NH Institute for Civics Education, and Pittsfield Listens.

In the video below, NH Listens Co-Director, Bruce Mallory, talks about the focus of the event.

What are your questions about student voice?

Students, teachers, and administrators began the day by discussing what questions they had about student voice.

What kind of support is needed?

Attendees shared their thoughts on what level of adult support would be appropriate when it came to issues like student discipline, student campaigns and walkouts, and students serving as voting members of their school boards.

Student Voice Impact

Students shared their individual student voice experiences and the ways in which they have impacted their learning experiences, school governance, and communities.

  • George Farrow III, a student from Spaulding High School, talked about having the opportunity to embark on a two-month national tour of the Christmas Carol production, as an AV Engineer. His voice was a critical component in advocating for this exceptional opportunity to learn outside the classroom.
  • Riley Cosgrove, another Spaulding High School student knew of an opportunity to intern with the Mayor's office in Rochester. His voice emerged from the moment he inquired about obtaining a spot in the ELO program at his school. It continued to grow in his community at large as he attended various committee meetings and began to develop a deep awareness for Rochester's key stakeholders. Riley explains that by developing his voice, he gained confidence, direction, and a lifelong passion for the people of his hometown.
  • Marion Umpleby, from Hanover High School is working on empowering the voices of other students in her school through her work on student council. She has spent time exploring what other student voice initiatives look like throughout the state and learning how to open doors for other students to be heard.
  • Stefne Ricci, from Pittsfield Middle High School, is elevating student voice through civic engagement. Students in her school attend budget committee meetings, host meet the candidates events, and educate their community about public school funding inequities.

Whose voice is not being heard?

Mo Nunez, of the Great Schools Partnership, asked students to think about who does not have a voice in their schools and how they would create more opporunities for those students to be heard.

What's Next?

Attendees throughout the day remarked on the benefits of connecting with others, sharing ideas, resources and the hopes that they will stay connected in the future. All school groups submitted actions plans after the summit to document next steps and future goals.

Nearly all schools acknowledged the need to assess and improve communication between students and staff. Many noted that patience and flexibility would be needed from both educators and students to make change happen and that strong efforts would be put forth to ensure all student voices would be heard, rather than those that only held leadership positions within the school.

Other parts of school action plans include the following:

  • Creating a student voice mission statement;
  • Creating an implementation plan for student voice as part of the school district’s 5-Year strategic plan;
  • Establish peer mediated student discipline initiative;
  • Making time in school schedule for student voice meetings and activities;
  • Student life curriculum committee;
  • Professional development for staff in advisory roles;
  • Provide opportunities for student voice in administrative team and school board meetings;
  • TedTalks type forum where staff, students or community members share experiences, ideas and thought provoking conversation;
  • Community forums on topics like school violence where everyone’s voice and opinions are shared and respected;
  • Student participation in town elections through candidate takes and exploring lowering the voting age for town elections to 16; and,
  • Mentoring programs.

Student Voice Summit 2018 Photo Gallery

Click on pictures to view as a slideshow.

Created By
Robin Dealmeida


Gail Rousseau & Reaching Higher NH

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