Reece Hoeksma and Mali Holland are part of the Kent ISD Student Leadership Community. They were selected by TKHS administrators who felt the pair would well represent the whole student body.
“The ISD is looking for input from students to really understand student needs and grow programs that are needed like KCTC, careers, counseling. They really want to hear from students about what they want and need,” said Assistant Principal Amy Forman.
Both Holland and Hoeksma said they were honored to be chosen. “Reece and I are just like normal students. We’re not the top in the class, but I think it’s great they want to hear our voices too,” said Holland.
“At first I wasn’t sure about it. I didn’t think I deserved to be here doing this. I’m just a normal student,” said Hoeksma.
Forman said the two were selected for their leadership roles with other students and to represent all students. The two, along with Forman and TK Superintendent Craig McCarthy recently attended the “Listen. Learn. Lead. State of the Student” evet at the GVSU Eberhard Center with more than 300 community members attending to listen to students’ thoughts.
“It’s definitely a lot different than what I’m used to doing. It’s all about making school better and what kinds of classes we should offer and what students want and need. They really want to hear from students about what we think,” said Hoeksma.
The Kent ISD Student Leadership Community is made up of 43 student members from each of the local districts within the Kent ISD. The group will meet five times throughout the year providing opportunities for leadership development, advocacy, networking, participation in special events and outlets for students to share their thoughts and ideas about their educational experiences.
“I’m grateful for all the opportunities we have at TK and through the KISD but I think there are some things that could be better,” said Holland. “I’m excited about this opportunity to have a voice in it. I think it’s cool that we get to learn about what other schools are doing and we can use that to teach us to be better.”
Holland said one thing discussed at the recent meeting was the need for more preparation for life after high school. “I would really like to see schools do more to prepare us for life after high school sooner instead of waiting until just our senior year. I think we need to start preparing for the SAT and college opportunities sooner too.”
Hoeksma said he would like educators to consider offering more classes students want to take. “I think it would be great to have classes here in different careers and trades or to be able to job shadow kind of so that we have a better idea of some career possibilities.”
He also wants to make sure schools showcase career options that don’t require college degrees and classes that fit other needs besides preparing students for college. “We have a few classes like that, but I think we need more,” he said. That’s where his idea for job shadowing and career exploration throughout a high school career could be beneficial.
“I think TK has a decent range of classes and a lot of good clubs. I think there could just be more. There are always ways to make improvements,” said Holland.
Both students said another topic at the meeting was the relationships between students and teachers. “We have great teachers here, but sometimes we need them to remember they were students once too and be a little more understanding and empathetic sometimes,” said Holland.
Forman said she was extremely impressed with the conference and the TK students who attended. “Our students gave us really valuable feedback and we are definitely listening to their ideas and input.”
McCarthy said he was equally impressed by all the students. “Listening to the students’ perspectives on education and their plans for the future, I’m confident that these students will have futures full of success.”