Sonoma Valley High student leaders create forum for broad input

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Student Forum: Students discussing ideas and issues with the student leadership at SVHS.

Student Advisory Committee: Students selected to attend quarterly meetings with the SVHS administration.

A new forum has been introduced for representatives from every grade at Sonoma Valley High to discuss issues and ideas with the school’s student leaders.

Forum officers have been chosen from advisory classes so the whole student body is represented in each meeting. As one of the representatives for my class, I think that the format of student forum is a great way to discuss issues in a professional and effective manner. In past years a similar forum has been called general assembly, but with new leadership the forum has been reinvented and promoted.

The topics discussed so far have included athletics, the high school’s master plan, A-plus clarification and more. Afterward, an email is sent home to parents and students about the discussion topics and any outcome.

The second and most recent forum took place on Friday, Jan. 18 in the Little Theatre on campus. Around 50 students gathered to discuss a controversial topic on campus: the Mr. Dragon competition. Students shared concerns about Mr. Dragon, an event that takes place before prom where male students can have a chance to win prom tickets by parodying beauty pageants. This is an event that many students look forward to every year because the participants share their talents, lip sync, have a beachwear competition, and more, to compete for prom tickets. Recently students have felt this event is not gender inclusive since there is no event for females or nonbinary students to win prom tickets.

Students at the recent forum gathered with two different stances: tradition vs. progressivism.

To begin the forum, Slate leaders, Gavin Lehane, Jackson Barbagelota, and George Stewart, and leadership student, Luis Esteva introduced the agenda. First, there was an open mic to discuss any topic or issue. Senior, Creighton Rocklin, brought up the issue of some students parking in handicap spots in the parking lot, and Shawna Hettrich, vice principal, took note of each issue addressed. Next students voted on a winter dance theme and the outcome was a “Taste of Summer” theme.

Students then discussed whether Mr. Dragon should become gender inclusive and change its name or stay the same.

I was one of the first students to speak on the issue. In my opinion, Mr. Dragon should become gender-inclusive so that all students are comfortable participating. Our school should be a safe place for students regardless of gender, so changing the name of Mr. Dragon and making it gender inclusive would promote inclusivity and acceptance.

Senior class president Sebastian Lopez noted that, “Changing the name was only going to include more participants, not exclude senior males from the competition. The sooner that this school realizes the segregation that it is permitting, the sooner this school can be a place for everyone. Although many students do not understand that our society is not as “black and white” as it used to be, they should be respectful of fellow peers that are different from themselves. Times are changing! Let our school be apart of the solution instead of the problem.

Unfortunately, the forum did not bring the result many students had hoped for. Mr. Dragon is not changing its name or becoming gender inclusive.

This result does not shed positive light onto our school, and although it upholds tradition, it discriminates against certain groups of students.

Junior Jacky Barragon said that although she can understand both sides of the argument, “In this day and age we need to be more open-minded.”

Despite the inability to change Mr. Dragon, it is unclear whether the event will change in the future or whether there will be separate events.

The student forum at least has opened doors for students to discuss issues that define the image and values of SVHS.

As a student body we need to decide what we want to be known for in the future. A core value should be inclusiveness and unity, and I believe the new student forum will help bring that to the campus.

Student Forum: Students discussing ideas and issues with the student leadership at SVHS.

Student Advisory Committee: Students selected to attend quarterly meetings with the SVHS administration.

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