News and Events
Facilitating conversations and igniting potential for change, nearly 30 Fridley High School (FHS) and Fridley Moore Lake Area Learning Center (ALC) students contributed their voices to the 2019 Student Conference on October 21, 2019. Over 2,000 students from 50 school districts across the state came together at the Minneapolis Convention Center to collectively address the question: How could we design and build a school system that offers ALL children with an education that provides equal access, opportunity and equity in an integrated environment by 2030?
A student-planned and led event, Fridley students were facilitators of two break-out sessions which centered around health and wellness (mental health) and school safety.
“The mental health topic kept coming up in the school safety session, because it’s the first issue to address when we want to keep all kids safe,” said Amaya Jefferson, ALC student. “We agreed that we all need to be more self-aware, be open-minded, and raise more understanding and awareness about mental health.”
ALC student Sarah Alzayadi said mental health and maintaining a balanced lifestyle is essential, particularly for youth today. “I think our generation is more prone to suffering from mental health issues, due to social media, different trends, and the uprise of technology. Some people find ways to cope, but a lot of the time, they aren’t healthy ways. It’s important to proactively start having those conversations and teach students how to be healthy. Mental health is a part of that.”
According to FHS senior Coco Nolen, it is important to teach students and staff about how to approach others who may be going through mental health issues. To address this, students came up with the ideas of updating health curriculum or host a “Mental Health Day” for everyone at the school to be involved in.
Nolen said she enjoyed being a part of the student conference experience, as students from districts around the metro area came together to collectively address issues that will affect students generations from now. “It was interesting to hear from all students. With each group [break-out session] that we went to, listening to what students were coming up with, it was a good experience to come together and learn about how we are all different, but we are collectively the same in what we want to each other and the future.”
FHS senior Mykell Engle agreed - he was happy to contribute as the conference had a purpose. “It was more than just getting your feelings out,” said Engle. “What we talked about in our sessions will be reviewed and considered by [the Reimagine Minnesota team] and put out there for change.”
Fridley students were inspired, particularly from the mental health conversations, to continue the conversations and bring awareness within both schools. ALC students will be continuing to meet and will present conference topics and feedback to fellow classmates. At Fridley High School, students who attended the conference will bring feedback to Tigers United, as well as additional clubs and student groups, to involve the entire student body.
ALC sophomore Karar Algezi added change doesn’t happen overnight, and to advocate for and initiate change, additional steps need to be taken. “There should be more meetings, both among Fridley students and state-wide,” said Algezi. “These issues can’t just go through your head one time, it needs to be a movement, rather than just a small protest.”
Additional subject topics that were discussed at the conference included physical spaces; curriculum and subject area classes; college and career; leaders, teachers and staff; school culture; technology; among others. The information and data gathered from the 2019 Student Conference will help to further inform the Reimagine Minnesota work that districts are collectively working on through the continued and generous support of The Association of Metropolitan School Districts.