Students find their voices

The Student Advisory Council (SACo), is a new organization established with the goal of giving students a voice on the school board.


Photo courtesy of Mari Taylor

SACo masterminds: (left to right) Aimel Rai, Grace Davis and Kaitlyn Johnson represent the students at a student advisory council meeting at the school district office. They have formed the council into what it is today. “I think that change has to come from policy, and it has to come from people being willing to work at, at the big level,” Johnson said.


Up until this year, there has been no student representation on the school board. Now, however, with this council, students will have more information about what policies are being put in place and have a way to express their viewpoints. SACo started as an idea, proposed to the school board by senior Katlyn Johnson when she discovered the idea of a student council.

“So I started emailing around, and it turns out that, you know, Everett has something like this, Snohomish has something like this, you know, the state school, the State Board of Education, has some representation. So I was like, ‘why don’t we have something like this?’” Johnson said.

Johnson brought the idea to the school board in late February 2020. While the COVID pandemic postponed her plans, she reached out to students online over her Instagram. By the time school was back in session, she had gathered a group of students willing to work with the Lake Stevens school board to make their voices heard. They wrote a model for a body of student representation on the school board, and Superintendent Dr. Ken Collins helped put the council’s plans into action. Since September, SACo has been meeting almost every week with Collins and Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Monica Meadows to put the pieces of their plans together.

This student council is a group of ten students, two from each grade eighth through twelfth, who attend school board meetings and provide their peers with information and a voice in the matter. The council serves the school board, giving input on anything where student voice is relevant, from curriculum changes to district-wide policies.

“The student advisory council…in its entirety is a body of student voice that has a position on the actual school board and is heard. And it provides the school board with an actual representation of how students feel about the decisions that are being made,” junior Aimel Rai said.

Being part of the school board and helping them make decisions means attending board meetings, which was set forth in the application process. The two responsibilities of a SACo member are to work on projects and inform their peers about said projects. Student representatives learn, talk about, and advocate for policies and procedures, then inform and influence those ideas to their peers.

“So it’s for students who are looking to get into kind of more of the nitty gritty of making change happen and making change that lasts, you know … For kids who are interested in, kind of, leaving a legacy,” Johnson said.

One main goal of the SACo is to give the opportunity to make an impact available to more students – outside of those in ASB and Leadership. Students who aren’t selected to be in SACo still have a say, and it’s important to the council that they are hearing every voice. So far, their main intention and focus has been to form the council and make it a permanent part of Lake Stevens School District. With the help of the school’s students and advisor Dr. Meadows, SACo hopes to take action to improve school culture and climate, push for more diverse curriculums, offer different volunteer hour opportunities for ASB students, and more.

“When we think about equity, student voice has to be at the center of that, and especially here in the school district….I’m really happy to be part of a project that’s centering student voice and making sure that the students’ voice is on the council, because when you go to school board meetings, a lot of times parents come, or community members come. But what’s missing are, like, the actual people we serve, right? Like you…So I’m really, really happy that this is happening. Because…it’s our job to serve you. And it’s really nice to have your voice in how we do that,” Meadows said.

Most recently, the student advisory council sought out one more sophomore to be part of the group. Applications were turned into their website. So far the biggest accomplishment made by SACo has been officiating the council. Now they’re hoping to start making change.