Winooski & Burlington Visit New York City

by Thong Nguyen, junior at Winooski High School

Winooski High School is a good school in my opinion but there are still some things that we need change to able to move the school to a higher level. As a student who goes to WMHS, I know it’s a part of my responsibility to make my school better. I was thinking that school is all about students, so if we want to make a change, we have to make the students feel interested in school first and gain their trust to follow the change. This shaped my focus on the recent site visit to New York City I attended with 23 other students and teachers from WMHS and Burlington High School.  I wanted to see if students in urban areas have something different that WMHS doesn’t have or needs to improve.

From what I saw, all of the schools we visited have a lot of things in common in terms of designing the class topics. They design the topic based on what students actually want to learn, not what the teachers think that the students want to learn. I love that! I think that would make more sense to learn about what you feel interested in so it can make the learning process be more productive.

Advisory time is also really cool. Each school has a different way to do it, but overall, they all try to make it as productive as possible. This is the first year Winooski High School has tried something different with Advisory time. I really like how in NYC schools they mix up their students from ninth to twelfth grade. Because of that, upper class students can have a chance to share experience with younger students and help them out. Also, WMHS is moving toward to Proficiency-Based Learning and students have to demonstrate their skills during Expo Week to able to graduate. So when the time comes to graduate, the advisory teacher could focus on two or three seniors rather than ten or fifteen and that would make it easier. When I heard the NYC students talk about their advisory experience, it was like an Ah-Ha moment for me. I think that will fit perfectly for Winooski High School.

As I said above, school is all about students. To be able to know what students want, we need student voice. Many schools have something like Student Government and they are the ones that decide every student activity in school.  It’s not a new thing but right now, WMHS is struggling with it. The cool thing I saw in NYC is that every student in the student government has to take a training course to help them do it better. I think that’s a pretty good idea because usually, students just have to sign up for that or write an essay to be selected into the group. It can benefit students in a lot of ways. First, they will be more responsible. Second, they will become stronger leaders with their knowledge. And third, it will make it more professional and build up their leadership skills which is really important when they go college.

Making a chance is really hard, especially in a big community like school. There are some positive things that, if we can apply it to our school, would make a huge difference. But we also have to be careful with it because making changes always goes along with risks. If we do it wrong, it will be like rolling down on a high hill. I learned a lot from this trip, not just only about my school, but also for my own experience. I feel really good that my questions were answered and more than that, I see the role of getting a good education and how powerful it is to build up a good human being. Definitely, I will bring everything I got from the trip to help my school be better and complete my responsibility as a student before I graduate from Winooski High School.


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