We are grateful to Core Team member Jeff Britten, N-K Student Leadership, and all the N-K students who participated the pilot of the Youth Voice survey. For those of you who do not get the Hibbing Daily Tribune, we call your attention to this piece that talks about their experience.

by Tony Potter Staff Writer tpotter@hibbingdailytribune.net

NASHWAUK — Nashwauk-Keewatin (N-K) High School and the Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success have joined forces.

Their focus: to ask the student body to participate in the Speak for Yourself survey, explained Principal Jeff Britten.

“We wanted to begin gathering students’ perspective on what is accessible to them to support their success in school and after,” he said, noting that N-K School District has taken part in the initiative since its inception in 2010. “School, community members, students and others have participated in the development of the pathways and attended numerous planning and progress celebration events over the past five years.”

The initiative was developed through the shared vision of Itasca Area Schools Collaborative (IASC) and Blandin Foundation to “strive to provide equal opportunities for all children to succeed, regardless of the barriers they may face,” according to Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success website.

The survey, which was recently completed by students in grades 7-12, was put on to collect baseline data to measure progress in reaching the pathway goals, said Jennifer Bevis, communications assistant for Blandin Foundation.

“The pathway aligns collective focus and action to create a future in which all students and their families in the Greater Itasca Area — regardless of background, income or geographic location — have the resources, knowledge, relationships, support and skills needed to ensure a healthy future,” she explained.

In order to spread the word of the survey, Britten obtained the help of Student Leadership — a group of four juniors and four seniors that were hand-picked by teachers to focus on the student voice and develop leadership skills.

“Their role with the survey was to communicate to the student body about the survey and encourage their serious participation,” he said. “They allow for a voice to reach out to the student body instead of just a communication from teachers or administration.”

The leadership team handled the project well, Britten said.

“They were super,” he said. “They showed great ownership and initiative coming up with ideas on how to communicate out to the student body.… Our student leadership team did a great job with that.”

Britten said he is pleased that students at N-K were able to participate in the survey.

“(It’s) An opportunity for students to share first hand what they know about access to resources and supports in their world — whether it be school, family and community,” he said.

And the survey is beneficial to the students, Britten opined.

“It gets them at the table and as part of the dialogue,” he said. “Students need opportunity to have a voice. Not just to be heard, but to also learn the processes involved in participating in initiatives that can benefit themselves, as well as the community at large.”

The purpose of the Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success is to provide equal opportunities for all children to succeed. The pathway to student success states:

Every student will have access to…

• A stable relationship with an involved parent or caregiver.

• The arts, physical activity and healthy living.

• High quality out-of-school programs and activities.

• Meaningful connections to the community.

• Relationships that support mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being.

• Guidance and direction from parents, caring adults, teachers, counselors and advisers.

• Technology and the skills necessary to use to achieve goals.

Every student will…

• Be prepared for school.

• Be supported inside and outside school.

• Feel accepted.

• Demonstrate competency or mastery at current learning level.

• Enroll in and complete a degree, certification or other training program after high school.

• Develop skills to live, work and thrive in an ever changing world.

Source: Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success website