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WE Expect Excellence: Transition Roles for Student Leaders

In the fall of 2017, hundreds of high school students in Beaverton will be shifting schools due to new boundaries. Principals recognized early in the process that this would be a big adjustment and sought out input, feedback and ideas from student leaders.

From participating in vision teams, to performing outreach at other schools, student leaders have contributed to easing the transition for new students.

At Southridge High School, 15 students sat on the vision team to help plan activities. The students represented all walks of life at Southridge. "They were intimately involved with creating our mission statement, core values and talking points as we welcome new families into Southridge," says Principal David Nieslanik.

Junior Jacob Ayers participated in the school's vision team. "We focused on how we wanted to present Southridge to future students and families," he says.

Sophomore Maddie Alvarez also participated. "I brought the perspective of how to make everyone feel comfortable and safe at school," says Maddie.

Next year, the demographics at Southridge will shift substantially, bringing many more Latino families and students. Senior Charlie Roman says he was able to provide his perspective to help with that shift. "I was able to bring in that cultural perspective and provide ideas to expose staff and students to the Latino culture," says Charlie.

All three students are also CommUNITY Ambassadors, a group of about 90 students that represent each of the clubs, sports and activities at Southridge. Those students visit feeder elementary and middle schools to answer questions.

Beaverton High School is also including community outreach in its transition plan. A group of students spoke at an assembly at West Tualatin View Elementary School this winter. "We wanted to introduce the idea of Beaverton," says sophomore Payton Major. "They looked at us as role models, you could see it in their eyes. It was just so inspiring."

"The thing that has always stood out to me about Beaverton is how welcoming we are," says junior Claire Arnold. She coordinates the school's student shadow program, which pairs an incoming student with a current student. "We've done a lot more outreach for our program to the middle schools that will be feeding into Beaverton and at Sunset High School, where students will be shifting to Beaverton," says Claire.

While Beaverton students are also incorporating a great deal of media and social media into their strategy. Payton has produced several videos designed to give students a feeling of what it's like to be a student at BHS.

Both the Southridge and Beaverton students say one of their main goals is to clear up the misconceptions about their respective schools. Says Ayers, "A lot of kids really don't know what the high school experience is like. They think it's going to be one way at Beaverton and one way at Southridge, but it's really very similar."