Laramie Youth Organizing District-Wide
Laramie’s youth are organizing, communicating, and advocating.
The Youth Advocacy Council (YAC), headed by Albany County Instructional Facilitator Danielle Halsey, started off small three years ago when three students “felt like there were a lot of decisions being made on behalf of students, but without their input,” Halsey said.
Now the group has around 20 members, and they’re creating a district-wide organization for ACSD1 students to have open communication about access to resources and communication with administration and the broader community.
They’re meeting with principals, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, and community organizations like COPSA, the Coalition to Prevent Suicide and Substance Abuse to “create pathways of communication between students and adults, so the student voice can be organized and amplified in district conversation,” Halsey said.
“They’re learning how to communicate effectively and build connections with leaders.”
The group has members in the Laramie Middle School, the UW Lab School, Snowy Range Academy, and Laramie High School, and “This year’s recruitment has been a lot more intentional to get voices from Whiting and Rock River. A highlight last year was the amount of learning about different school communities,” she added.
The group has discussed topics like student fees, the district medication policy, and community engagement outside of the school. Several of the students are focusing on mental health.
Students were “Feeling like there weren’t resources, and were only learning about them as advisors were telling them they actually do. They want to make this information more accessible for our student body of what resources exist for them,” Halsey said.
The council piloted Rhithm, a daily well-being check-in system that uses emojis for students to input how they’re feeling on a regular basis. Halsey said if there’s a shift in a student’s recorded moods, the program will alert professionals.
YAC met with consultants from Rhithm before the test drive, to see if it would benefit ACSD1 students. “They decided it was amazing,” and it was such a successful program that LMS uses it daily now.
Halsey said the group is creating pathways for students to provide input on their experiences on a range of topics along with mental health and wellness, too, like resource availability, the recent statewide initiative towards student-centered learning (RIDE), and academic and socio-emotional issues.
“Good work is happening with this group,” Halsey said.
Brunch & Bubbly 2023
Gallery Credit: Nicole Sherwood