Opinion

Insights from thought leaders working to improve the lives of America’s Youth

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JENA LE

Youth Author
My best friend told me that one of our friends was sending her suicidal text messages and that she didn’t know what to do. I knew that we didn’t have the right expertise to really help our friend...
HANNAH WYMAN

HANNAH WYMAN

Youth Author
We need to recognize that schools aren’t doing enough to meet the mental health needs of students, and we need adults to take the lead.
CECILE STONE

CECILE STONE

Youth Author
A new stigma around mental health has awakened because of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Everyone’s mental health has been impacted in one way or another, but the fear of speaking out about it is stronger than before.
Nicole Zhong

Nicole Zhong

Youth Author
Young people should be included on community boards or committees so that there is a voice for us in decision-making at a city and local level. Oftentimes, the problems you encounter and decisions you make tend to affect us more than you realize, yet it seems like you forget that we have thoughts and opinions, too.
Azariah “Z” Estes

Azariah “Z” Estes

Youth Author
This piece is part of “Dear Adult Leaders: #ListenToYouth,” a four-week series produced in collaboration with The 74 to elevate student voices in the national conversation as schools and districts nav
Olivea Doyle

Olivea Doyle

Youth Author
Acknowledging the importance of youth participation and giving them a platform does not diminish the authority of educators and school leaders. Instead, collaboration between adults and young people can help strengthen relationships between students and adults because students feel like their voices and contributions are valued and it only further strengthens our systems.
Gabe Abdellatif

Gabe Abdellatif

America’s Promise Youth Leadership finalist
This piece is part of “Dear Adult Leaders: #ListenToYouth,” a four-week series produced in collaboration with The 74 to elevate student voices in the national conversation as schools and districts nav
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Lillian Perriello

Student Writer, Wilmington High School
As classrooms and our nation become more diverse, it is essential that schools become more inclusive and representative in how they teach our shared history. To do so, state boards of education like ours should adopt social studies standards that encourage an honest, inclusive teaching of our nation’s history and that highlight the contributions and experiences of people of color.
Jazmin R. Moran

Jazmin R. Moran

Student Writer, Tacoma School of the Arts
I have been working to reevaluate the curriculum at my school by working in a collaborative group between students and staff called the Equity Team. I’ve been talking specifically to English teachers to see how we can shift the curriculum so that it incorporates honest lessons about our country’s history.
Cristian Gaines

Cristian Gaines

Student Writer, Newton North High School
Last year, my closest friend faced perpetual racial abuse at school. Teammates called him a “cocky n***er” in the locker room, and he was ostracized by football coaches as they practiced after METCO buses (Boston’s integration program) had left. The overwhelming distress and his countless failed attempts to receive support drove him out of Newton North High School. Make no mistake — this is racism. This is a direct removal of integrated Black students from our school.
Darlene Folas

Darlene Folas

Student Writer, Swarthmore College
The ever-increasing movement to depoliticize schools is ultimately a disservice to our society with inherently hypocritical goals. Let there be no mistake; schools are political. They always have been. What they teach is political. Who they teach is political. Who they don’t teach is political. Everything down to the when and where is political. And there is not a more significant example of this than racism in America.
Bhavana Akula

Bhavana Akula

Student Writer, Colts Neck High School
I had my first Asian teacher this year after 11 years in our public school system. I didn’t quite recognize this fact or its weight at first — to have a teacher who looked like me. But as the year unfolded, I found myself able to open up about societal and family stress that had often left me feeling isolated with no one who could fully understand the complexities of the pressures I was navigating.