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Student leaders develop a vision for the future

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Photo submitted Three high school students traveled to the Colorado Association of School Boards convention with school district administrators and school board members. Pictured are Azalee Hoffbauer from Cedaredge, Ana Jurca from Delta and Katya Schwiete

School board members, superintendents, education leaders and students concluded the 78th annual Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) convention in Colorado Springs on Sunday, Dec. 9.

The contingent from Delta County included district leadership, school board members and three students -- Ana Jurca, Delta High School; Katya Schwieterman, Paonia High School; and Azalee Hoffbauer, Cedaredge High School.

They recapped their experience during a meeting of the newly-formed Delta County Student Advisory Committee.

"Overall it was a really good experience," the three girls shared.

Because she had gone to the CASB convention last year, Ana Jurca, a founding member of the youth advisory committee, served as a student facilitator.

Schwieterman and Hoffbauer attended breakout sessions with high school students from across the state, which provided a unique opportunity for networking. Many conversations revolved around the topics of mental health and substance abuse.

Of particular value to the two girls was a Peace First exercise in which they were asked to identify an injustice in their school and come up with a solution. Hoffbauer identified curriculum she views as non-inclusive. "We are a diverse district," she said. "We need to represent and learn about our diversity."

Her solution was to identify state standards, then create a database of inclusive resources to serve as a cross-reference for teachers and students looking for a broader perspective.

Schwieterman wanted to find a way to make students feel more connected to what they're learning, and by doing so increase their interest in the subject. She envisions some type of forum that would foster communication among students, teachers, administrators and those who develop curriculum to answer the question, "When will I ever use this material?"

Schwieterman said young people of her generation want to know the "why" behind the lesson.

The student leaders who participated in the Peace First program shared their insights and problem-solving skills during a general session on Saturday.

Dr. John Medina followed the students on stage and fascinated the audience with the latest research on the teenage brain and ways to influence executive functioning of the brain.

The student leaders from Delta County found this information to be highly informative, and all came home with ideas to increase learning potential for every student through movement and external stimuli.

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