Student Voices: "I've grown as a person."

College & Career Readiness, Legislation, Student Voices | 04/30/2018

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Manager, Stand for Children Washington

Sydney Stone is a junior at West Valley high school in Spokane, Washington. Earlier this year, she traveled across the state to Olympia with Stand for Children to testify in support of Senate Bill 6135, a bill that would have expanded access to advanced classes in schools throughout Washington. As an AP student herself, Sydney spoke from personal experience as she explained the benefits of these advanced courses to lawmakers:

“AP Classes are the highlight of my day. I’ve learned how to push myself, I’ve grown as a person, and I’ve had a lot of fun in these classes. Not only are they fun, they set students up for success to become college ready.”

You can watch Sydney’s testimony to the House Education Committee here.

During the 2018 legislative session, Stand for Children advocated for policy that would open up more resources for schools to implement Academic Acceleration programs to increase the number of underrepresented students in advanced classes like the ones Sydney testified about.

Sydney still has one more year until she graduates. I sat down with her after her testimony in Olympia and we talked about her high school experience so far, what she wants to do next, and what she thinks students need in Spokane:

What has been your favorite class in high school?

My favorite class in high school so far has been my engineering design and development class. In this class we do a different project every three weeks and we have to work together in teams and document our progress over the three weeks. We learn skills such as leadership and responsibility in this class.

What do you enjoy most about high school?

What I enjoy most about high school is extracurricular activities and clubs. I am a part of the robotics team, the cross-country team, the track and field team, as well as other leadership groups. I have a lot of fun in these and I look forward to these activities every day.

Sydney is the head operator of the West Valley High robotics team, which qualified for the World Championships this year.

What kind of supports do students need in Spokane? What are some common problems you see other students running in to?

Some supports that kids in my school need is a way to deal with stress, which is one of the common problems that I see many kids in my school running into, including myself. Many of us that are part of after school activities do not have a lot of time to work on school work or other important things and we become very stressed.

Why do you take advanced classes?

I take advanced classes to challenge myself as well as to prepare for college. In many of the basic classes at our school, I become bored very easily and I don't learn as much, whereas with advanced classes I get the chance to push myself and I feel like I am constantly learning something new and interesting.

What is your plan after high school? What kind of job interests you?

My plan after high school is to go to a university, preferably Stanford or the University of Washington in order to get a degree in mechanical engineering.

Who has been your favorite teacher and why?

One of my favorite teachers has been Mr. Groshoff. He is the engineering teacher and my mentor on the robotics team. He has helped to push me since freshman year and has put me out of my comfort zone by encouraging me to be a leader and the driver on the robotics team, something that I would not have done if not for him.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to get in touch with your lawmakers and advocate for policy like Sydney did, sign-up to host a Community Conversation with Stand for Children’s organizing team. Even though this year’s session is over, there’s still plenty of work to do before 2019.

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