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Pasadena Unified Launches ‘Student Think Tank and Leadership Team’

Published on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 | 10:48 am

The Pasadena Unified School District has named 19 high school students to help shape the district’s curriculum as part of the inaugural “Student Think Tank and Leadership Team,” officials have announced.

The program is part of PUSD’s “efforts to foster a social justice lens in its schools and community,” Chief Academic Officer Elizabeth Blanco said in an email to Superintendent Brian McDonald last week.

The student think tank is meant “to bring together a diversity of student voices in shared knowledge-building that will eventually inform PUSD’s instructional and curricular decisions,” Blanco wrote.

The 19 students began meeting, online at first, on Monday.

The think tank project is divided into two phases, according to Blanco.

The first 10 weeks will focus on “Building Leadership and Trust,” she said.

“In this phase, we initiate a student leadership team that includes students from all high schools, in grades 10-12, who will simultaneously be trained in leadership and anti-racism; the cohort will drive a PUSD curriculum review from the student perspective,” the email stated.

The meetings will take place online outside of school hours, and participating students will be able to earn community service credit, Blanco added.

“Students will study Pasadena as a microcosm of global power structures,” she said.

In the second phase of the Student Think Tank and Leadership Team, the team will go on to train other groups.

“Team members will present local/global findings and curriculum recommendations to teacher/admin groups, and potentially communities beyond PUSD including PCC, Caltech, and local private schools to examine the city culture and push for long-term change,” according to Blanco’s email. “The cohort will continue as a community service option so that the curriculum can be studied as an ongoing project and reflect the needs of the student population.”

The think tank will eventually work in tandem with the PUSD’s Curriculum Review for Cultural Responsiveness team, which is in development and will be made up of PUSD teacher leaders, Blanco said.

“Both projects will eventually inspect and inform curriculum and/or instructional resource reform, particularly in humanities, literacy and social studies courses,” she wrote.

Students selected for the think tank are Auggie Bailey, Sofia Carmenate, Adelynn (Addie) Dale, Parami De Silva, Celeste Edell, Lucine Ekizian, Evan Eslava, Camila Morales Guevara, Genevieve Harvey, Jacob Hernandez, Mya Hernandez, Tiffany Jasso, Tamaire Johnson, Naomi Moore, Jade Ortiz, Jose-Dolores Roybal-Monzo, Isabella (Ella) Uriu, Sylvia Wang, and Daron Yacoubian.

Funding for the think tank project was provided by a grant from the Stuart Foundation.

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