North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Students speak out against unity assembly, advocate for summits at May 7 board meeting

Ruby Rosenberg

The boardroom buzzed with anticipation as students gathered for the May 7 board meeting of District 219. This meeting was more than just another date on the calendar—it was a pivotal moment for our school community to address the urgent need for affinity spaces and cultural summits. These initiatives are not merely symbolic; they represent our collective call for unity, representation, and true inclusivity.

Together with my friend Rhea Shin, we meticulously planned this meeting, driven by the frustration we felt upon learning that the Latinx community had been denied a summit multiple times. It wasn’t just the Latinx community facing this issue; other cultural groups had also been overlooked. Our goal was clear: to make sure every voice was heard and every cultural group represented.

The turnout was heartening. Seeing so many from the Niles North community showed a genuine engagement with this pressing issue. Eight speakers took the stage, each bringing their own unique perspective and passion, advocating for unity and representation within our school.

Junior Anthony Bramley was the first to speak, highlighting the staggering expenditure on the new Niles North addition and suggesting that some of these funds could be redirected towards supporting cultural summits. Gio Bautista, president of the Filipino club, followed suit, expressing frustration within his Filipino community regarding the lack of support and representation. 

Junior Anh Nguyen had a poignant speech that echoed throughout the room, pointing out the discrepancy between the school’s purported diversity and its actions toward supporting and promoting a truly inclusive community.

Junior Rhea Shin shared insights from Niles West, shedding light on the negative perceptions and sentiments surrounding the Unity Assembly. 

Then came English teacher Jean Ordonez, whose impassioned speech on listening to the students left a lasting impact. With eloquence and conviction, she articulated the need for listening and working with students, captivating the audience with her words. 

Juniors Melissa Garcia and Mia Sanchez, representing the Latinx community at Niles North, advocated for greater visibility and representation within the school’s initiatives. 

I offered practical solutions, proposing the establishment of four summits: Black Student Union, Latinx, Middle Eastern and North African (MENA), and Asian, along with affinity spaces for each subgroup. My proposal was not just practical but visionary, a blueprint for a more inclusive school environment.

The atmosphere crackled with energy as junior Griffin Larson-Erf, referenced a powerful John Lewis quote, further fueling the momentum of the discussion. 

Whatever good work you do, whatever powerful, profound work—do it because it’s right or because it’s necessary,” Lasrson-Erf said. “Do it to make change for the better. Do it because you know you must. Don’t do it for credit.” 

Despite the energy and conviction in the room, I couldn’t help but feel disheartened by our superintendent’s response. His words felt like a hollow reassurance, a series of platitudes that failed to address the core issues we raised. 

While he claimed that funding was not an issue, students had been told otherwise by the administration, leaving us confused and frustrated.

This meeting was impactful and left an indelible mark on all who attended. The discussions sparked a profound sense of purpose and determination within our community. We left the boardroom with a renewed commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for all.

Yet, this is only the beginning. We need our administration to listen, genuinely listen, and act on our concerns. The path to true inclusivity is long, but with the passion and unity demonstrated at this meeting, I am confident we will get there. 

Our voices will not be silenced, and our resolve will not waver.

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About the Contributors
Elyana Kachaochana
Elyana Kachaochana, Reporter
Elyana is a junior at Niles North. She enjoys spending time with her nieces/nephews, she spends her time diving into history and conspiracy theories, and she hopes to make a change within the justice system or government one day.
Ruby Rosenberg
Ruby Rosenberg, Reporter
Ruby is a Junior and this is her first year on North Star News. Ruby loves singing, playing with her corgi Maxine, and hanging out with friends.

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