Hearing Your Viking Voice

Isabella Galvez, Writer

As current world issues like COVID-19 and social injustice bring new stress and emotions on students, it is essential that they have a platform where their opinions can be heard and discussed. The Viking Voice, formerly known as Culture of Caring and Respect, was first created in 2014 by Mr. Houts so students can have a place to voice their concerns about issues on campus.  While it still serves the same purpose, this year has brought new challenges, such as distance learning, and The Viking Voice is the resource that students need to feel like they are taken seriously.

 

The Viking Voice committee consists of students and staff members who feel strongly about what students are feeling and how their suggestions can be taken in action by the Downey High School staff. Mr. Fowler, Dean of Students, is part of this committee and wants students to know the message that the Viking Voice sends. 

 

“It’s somewhere where student voices are heard on issues.  We want to see what students’ concerns are and address those,” Fowler said. “We want to hear what students have to say and things that concern them.  We want the students to give us an idea of what the issues are that they wanna address.”  

 

Each meeting has a different discussion topic and is mostly a student driven effort so that their issues within the school can be approached in a quick and effective way.  Mr. Alvarez, Dean of Students, tells why he encourages this method of communication and its efficiency.

 

“We can sit here and make up the topics, but then on the other hand, as students you’re gonna be sitting there like ‘Well I thought it was a platform for our voice to be heard and you guys are setting all these topics’, so that’s not what we want,” Alvarez shared.  “We wanna hear from students.  What are their concerns and let’s get some actionable stuff for their concerns.”

 

Students also know the importance of having a community like this because of its communication between staff and students.  Miki Kawai, 12, shares her thoughts on the Viking Voice and how it will shed a better light on how students’ feedback is being addressed. 

 

“It shows the school is open to feedback from the people in their community and are willing to address any concern the community has,” Kawai said. “It demonstrates how they can receive feedback and are willing to change.”

 

A weekly newsletter is also published after each meeting to give a summary of what was discussed by students during the meeting and highlights of the discussion.  This newsletter, along with more of the Viking Voice information can be found on the Distance Learning website. They meet on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. for about an hour. So many students have their own concerns and grievances within school, yet not many people are a part of the Viking Voice’s discussions.  Recognition is all they need for students to get involved and be a part of the change.