You hear the big school dance is coming up, but you and your friends in the Jaguar House think dances are well…boring, or at least ancient, circa 1992? You could just complain about it. Instead, since it’s El Paso Leadership Academy (EPLA) East, you go to your House Rep and ask them to bring it up at the weekly Student Ambassador meeting. Because scholars have an important say in how EPLA East is run.
Here at EPLA East, a tuition-free middle and high school, our scholars take the lead. One of the ways we do this is our Student Ambassador Program where reps from each of our high school Houses meet with our small school’s administrators every week and discuss (and act on!) issues important to them – and their peers.
Reps In the House
Starting freshman year, students are invited into our four year Housing System. Using our middle school CRSSH merits, personality tests, teacher input, and their own preferences, students are divided into Houses- the Serpiente, Aguila, Jaguar, Xoloitzcuintle, Chapulin, and Tecolote, each representing a value, like responsibility (go chapulines!). Each House elects two representatives who act as liaisons between students and school administration. The ambassador reps hold no extra power – they are simply the voice for their House although they get to be, using the brilliant Hamiliton analogy, in the room where it happens.
Speaking Up for the Team
Back to the dance. Your ambassador submits an agenda item for the weekly meeting and on Friday, it’s discussed. Admin asks what the students want, and after some debate, the reps come up with a solution: instead of a dance, they want a party, complete with booths and selfie stations. All the reps bring this idea back to their houses, and you decide if that’s something you want (you do). If you can’t decide, there’s an option to take the question to the entire school with a survey, because connections matter at EPLA East and we want your input.
So a party it is, but that is just the beginning. Admin gives some prompts – do we hold this party during the school hours or after…what are the pros and cons – but scholars need to plan it and make it happen. This means you need a budget, action items, deliverables, a timetable, and lots of communication. Some of these items might be for admin (how much is a party budget?) but the idea is for scholars to be autonomous and figure it out, together, in their houses. If this sounds like how business is run today, that’s the point: at our forward-thinking school, we are preparing our scholars for their future in today’s world: lively debate, compromises, solutions, delegation, and of course, paperwork.
Are There Donuts? What About Committees?
Like many a productive meeting, there could be refreshments served on Fridays but the reps are in charge of making it happen. Along with the donuts, there are different roles within the Student Ambassador Program that the representatives lead- like a facilitator who makes sure the agenda is planned and ready to discuss, researchers who take ideas and gather more information, a tech lead who manages those wily Google docs and incoming data, and of course someone directing all things social media. These roles make up committees within the Student Ambassador Program, really driving home just what it’s like to work and play as a team.
At EPLA East, you get to plan your party and enjoy it too, knowing your great ideas and hard work made it happen! But speaking of representing, don’t completely abandon that original “school dance” idea from the 90s- maybe play some old school Garth Brooks or Boyz to Men and watch your teachers jam in the background. The early nineties had some great moves!
Want to be a voice for your school? Love the idea that your opinion matters and makes a difference? Call us at (915) 298-3901 or fill out an application today and join our innovative middle and high school.
About El Paso Leadership Academy East
El Paso Leadership Academy East (EPLA East) is a small, tuition-free public charter school serving middle and high school students in El Paso Texas. We’re reimagining education from the ground up, starting with our intentionally designed building and continuing that with our scholars’ innovative and personalized education. We work with community partnerships in preparing our scholars to become dynamic leaders in the 21st century. We stress the importance of collaboration and accountability in all we do. Join our growing school, enroll today!