During a focus group session at the Lakota Central Office Thursday, it was the students teaching Lakota administrators on how to better run the state’s seventh-largest school system.
The student-led focus group was the first of four sessions with Lakota officials, as the school district looks for more effective ways to educate its students.
“Students will tell you the truth and that is what we are looking for,” Lakota Superintendent Karen Mantia said. “We want to make sure we are responsive school system in meeting their needs. In order to do that, we need to ask them.
“This is just the tip of the ice berg.”
After the discussions with students, Mantia said that he hopes to extend an invitation for future focus groups with teachers and eventually with the community.
Among the topics covered, during the two-hour student focus group, included what ways students learn the best, how technology plays a role in their learning, what skills do they think they need to know for their future and what changes need to be made to the school system.One change some of the students agreed on was the district needing to be more lenient with online restrictions. Currently, students cannot visit websites like Twitter, Facebook and other blogs while on school grounds.
“Anything that could help us with our studies should be allowed,” Lakota West senior Melody Stewart said. “If that means going on Facebook to get something, then we should be allowed to do that. If you abuse that privilege than it should be taken away, but for educational purposes we should be able to go online and search for what we need.”
Stewart, who played volleyball in the Lakota school system and will continue her athletic career at Northern Kentucky University, also thought that the school system should focus on having more extracurricular activities.
“If I didn’t play volleyball, I don’t think that would be as involved in the school today,” Stewart said. “I think these activities help students feel connected to the school district. I believe we should get students more involved and have more extracurricular activities so they can have that connection and feel what I felt.”
Another Lakota athlete, who still has two more years of high school before he graduates, worries about the change in the academic schedule when the high schools move to six-period days in the fall.
“Next year is going to be a lot harder because we only have six periods,” said Lakota West sophomore Malik Grove, who has played varsity football, basketball and bowling. “You still need to earn enough credits. I will still need another foreign language and a fine arts class. I only have two years left to get those in order to get into to a good college.”
Meanwhile, Stewart hopes Grove and other future graduates will receive the same education she received while at Lakota.
“When I leave, I don’t want to see the school district go down the drain. I want them to keep improving,” Stewart said. “My experience at Lakota was great. I feel that I am very prepared for the future and I want other students who come up to feel the same way.
“I really hope that this meeting will give the school district a lot of information to keep improving our studies … because I believe there are many things that we can to do, to better prepare students for college and the workforce.”