Four Round Lake High School students went on a soapbox before elected officials and administrators and touched on issues such as bullying and their school's image.
Sophomores Lluvia Chavarria, Alex Munoz, Ariana Melesio and Becky Guo made the presentations as members of the Schuler Scholar program and a summer writing workshop called Project Soapbox. The program is operated by the privately funded Schuler Family Foundation.
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Round Lake Area Unit District 116 Superintendent Constance Collins and board President Nanci Radford said they were impressed with the pupils.
"Very enlightening to hear what you had to say," Collins told the students after the presentations.
At this week's District 116 board session, the students' speeches resulted from a Schuler Scholar assignment that asked them to identify a significant issue in their school community and what could be done to solve it. Project Soapbox was designed to have them get involved in writing and public speaking.
Melesio tackled what she said is Round Lake High's image problem in her speech. Too often, she said, teenagers at other Lake County schools smirk when they hear she attends Round Lake High.
She said the negativity about Round Lake High School leads to lower student self-esteem and may cause some students to lose interest in doing their best.
"To solve this problem, I would like to propose the Round Lake community work to set goals for itself," Melesio said. "Setting goals to improve the Round Lake community would cause students to take pride in their school."
Academic and athletic performance would escalate if specific goals were established, she said. Melesio said the District 116 board could help by expecting more from students.
In a speech that also addressed image, Munoz said more after-school help for students should be encouraged to boost Round Lake High. He added that criticism of Round Lake High typically comes from students in other nearby schools.
"There is no reason to criticize the school, because no school is perfect," Munoz said.
Chavarria spoke about how bullying should be a concern at her school. As part of a solution to turn it around, she said, the school should focus on the bullies and learn what's troubling them.
Guo expressed concerns about inequalities in the college admission process in her speech to the board.
To qualify for the Schuler Scholar program, students must earn a minimum 3.0 grade-point average after their freshman year of high school and be involved in leadership or community service activities. Schuler provides financial assistance for scholars to attended college, with most being the first in their families to pursue higher education.
Investor Jack Schuler, a former Abbott Laboratories executive, started the foundation in 2001.